Stay Cool, Western New York
When heat and humidity are high, it’s important to take steps to protect your health. Drinking enough water, taking breaks and cooling off can all help prevent severe dehydration and overheating.
Hot weather, humid air and physical activity can all push up body temperatures to dangerous levels. According to the New York State Department of Health, the most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke (also called sun stroke), heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash.
The Centers for Disease Control warn, “Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others: Infants and young children; People 65 years of age or older; People who are overweight; People who overexert during work or exercise; People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.”
The NY State Department of Health offers the following suggestions for preventing heat-related illness:
If there is no air conditioning in the home, open windows and shades on the shady side and close them on the sunny side to try to cool it down.
Drink plenty of fluids but avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks.
Beat the heat with cool showers and baths.
Take regular breaks from physical activity and avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to help keep cool.
Stay out of the sun as much as possible and try to stay in an air conditioned location if possible.
Wear sunscreen and a ventilated hat (e.g., straw or mesh) when in the sun, even if it is cloudy.
Never leave children, pets or those with special needs in a parked car, even briefly. Temperatures in the car can become dangerous within a few minutes.
Check on neighbors, family and friends, especially those who are elderly or have special needs.
Your need for water will increase if you are hot, physically active, or losing fluid due to illness. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, research “showed that women who appear to be adequately hydrated consume an average of approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water -- from all beverages and foods -- each day, and men average approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces) daily.” The institute’s recommendation is for healthy people to let thirst guide how much they drink.
It’s also possible to have too much water. People with kidney failure, people with heart failure and those taking certain medications need to limit fluid intake. If you have concerns about how much water to drink based on your personal health, check with your medical provider.
Additional resources for cooling off:
The American Kidney Fund has tips for people with kidney disease who may need to limit water and fluids: https://www.kidneyfund.org/article/five-tips-beat-heat-while-maintaining-your-kidney-friendly-fluid-plan
The Erie County Department of Health has a searchable list of places where you can stay cool when temperatures rise. Search by ZIP code, city or type of location at https://www3.erie.gov/health/stay-cool
Please call before going to make sure that the location is open and for any special requirements they may have.
The New York State Department of Health has a listing of cooling centers searchable by county or by ZIP code at https://apps.health.ny.gov/statistics/environmental/public_health_tracking/tracker/#/CCList.
The New York State Department of Health collects information about seasonal cooling centers from local health departments and emergency management offices. “If a cooling center is not available, libraries, supermarkets, malls, and community swimming pools are great places to stay cool,” the department notes. “You can always check with your local health department or local news sources for possible additional cooling centers during heat events.”
Ready.gov, an official website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has extreme heat preparedness resources and information at https://www.ready.gov/heat.