Heat-related alerts issued for Sussex County

The first official heat wave of summer 2008 continued Tuesday to sizzle the mid-Atlantic region, where temperatures were expected to top 100 degrees and could lead to a variety of health and safety issues, from heat exhaustion to power interruptions.

To help those in need of heat relief, Sussex County Administrator David B. Baker announced that residents and visitors are being invited to “cooling stations” during this week’s hot and humid weather. Heat indexes were to hit predicted well above the 100-degree mark through Tuesday.

The facilities include:
• County Administration Building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown, open 24 hours;

• South Coastal Library, Route 26, Creekside Plaza, Millville, open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 1-5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday;

• Milton Library, 121 Union Street, Milton, open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 1-5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday;

• Greenwood Library, 100 Mill Street, Greenwood, open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Paramedics will make routine stops at these locations to answer any heat-related questions and/or concerns. When coming to the relief stations, relief-seekers should bring any medications and/or specialty items that they need. Free individual servings of bottled water will be available at the County Administration Building only.

National Weather Service forecasters predicted daytime temperatures in the upper 90s, accompanied by humid conditions. Temperatures were expected to ease by Wednesday, with the arrival of a cold front and scattered showers and thunderstorms.

“The good news with this heat wave is that forecasters expect to it be very short-lived,” Baker. “But even just a few days of these extreme conditions can be very hard on the body. So we want to remind the public to take it easy when they can, cool off as much as possible and keep hydrated.”

Residents and visitors are being urged to limit exposure outside, particularly during the hottest part of the day – roughly from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Those who must be outside should take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of water.

Here are some hot-weather safety tips:

• Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing. Lighter clothing deflects sunlight, and will not absorb heat like dark materials do;

• Stay in properly ventilated areas;

• Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day;

• Have plenty of water available. Avoid alcoholic beverages;

• Be aware of the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and seek medical attention if necessary. Signs of heat cramps can include muscular pains and spasms from heavy exertion.

Resting in a cooler area, taking occasional sips of water and stretching the muscle mildly can counter the effects of heat cramps. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are much more serious, and may require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include a pale or flushed appearance, as well as headache and nausea.

Heat stroke symptoms include rapidly increased body temperature, loss of consciousness, rapid or weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing.

Be sure to check on friends, relatives and neighbors, particularly the elderly and young children, who may be at risk for exposure to the heat. Remember to give pets extra water, provide shade or bring them into a residence where temperatures are cooler.

It’s also important to keep in mind that due to the higher temperatures and humidity expected in the area over the next couple of days, demand for electricity will increase.

In an effort to reduce costs and avoid power shortages, Baker, along with the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center, asked all residents and business operators in Sussex County to help conserve power to avoid outages.

The public can help in the conservation of electricity by taking the following steps:

• Set your air conditioner to 80 degrees, or use fans instead, and minimize the opening of refrigerators and freezers;

• Limit the use of electrically heated water and turn off non-essential appliances and lights;

• Delay using high-energy appliances, such as washing machines and dryers, until after 8 p.m.;

• Prepare light summer meals that don’t require a lot of cooking. Try using an outdoor grill or microwave oven instead of your electric range;

• Keep window shades, blinds, or drapes closed to block the sunlight during the hottest part of the day;

• Move lamps, TVs and other heat sources away from air conditioner thermostats. Heat from those appliances is sensed by the thermostat and could cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary;

• Move furniture and other obstacles from in front of central air conditioning ducts to allow cooler air to circulate through rooms freely.

Businesses can conserve electricity by:

• Raising their thermostats;

• Turning off unnecessary lighting and equipment.

The Sussex County Emergency Operations Center will continue to monitor the weather situation and issue updates as needed. For more information, call (302) 855-7801.

Code Red forecast for Tuesday in Delaware

DNREC’s Air Quality Management Section has announced a Code Red Air Quality Action alert has been issued for Tuesday, June 10, the second Code Red issued in the last four days.

“A Code Red has been issued for tomorrow because hot and humid weather is expected to continue for one more day,” said David Fees, manager with DNREC’s Air Quality Management Section, on Monday afternoon. “The calm winds forecast for overnight will allow air pollutants to accumulate, and we don’t expect improvement in our air quality until thunderstorms arrive in late afternoon or evening.”

DNREC’s Web site includes the color-coded rating scale to describe the forecasted level of ozone. Code Red means that people susceptible to the effects of poor air quality should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors, and everyone should reduce outdoor activities.

For daily information on Air Quality Action alerts and measures citizens can take to help reduce ozone air pollution, visit DNREC’s Web site, at www.dnrec.delaware.gov, and click on “Air Quality Forecast.”

DNREC’s Air Quality Section measures ozone and other pollutants at nine monitoring sites throughout the state – in Brandywine, Bellefonte, Wilmington, Newark, Summit Bridge, Felton, Lums Pond, Lewes and Seaford. To view current ozone readings, visit www.dnrec.state.de.us/air/aqm_page/airmont/air.asp.