Orange County Emergency Services offers tips to survive high temperatures

ORANGE COUNTY, NC (July 21, 2017)–Orange County Emergency Services is sharing tips to help residents prepare for this weekend’s excessive temperatures. In recent years, excessive heat has caused more weather-related deaths than tornadoes, hurricanes or floods. 

Orange County is prepared to respond to the high temperatures predicted for this weekend. Residents are urged to adhere to the following services and heat survival tips:

  • Cooling centers are located at the Passmore Center (103 Meadowlands Drive in Hillsborough), the Seymour Center (2551 Homestead Road in Chapel Hill), and the Orange County Public Library (137 W. Margaret Lane in Hillsborough). Additionally, residents are invited to cool off and pick up a bottle of water at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (106 E Margaret Lane in Hillsborough) on Friday, July 21, or at the Orange County Jail (125 Court Street in Hillsborough) on Saturday, July 22, and Sunday, July 23.
  • The Orange County Department of Social Services (DSS) and Department on Aging can assist low-income elderly or medically fragile residents by distributing a limited number of fans and air conditioners for those who qualify. To check the availability of free fans, please contact the DSS at 919.245.2800 or the Department on Aging at 919.968.2070.

Additional heat-related and emergency assistance information and hours of operation for each facility can be found on the County’s Web site (www.orangecountync.gov) on the Emergency Services, Animal Services, Aging, Health, and the Department of Social Services pages.

Be Prepared

  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing
  • Stay indoors, slow down and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day
  • If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks
  • The elderly, young or medically fragile are more likely to become victims of excessive heat
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat
  • If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (Public facilities, libraries, community and senior centers, etc.)
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle
  • Leave pets at home (don’t even take animals out in a vehicle if you may have to leave them locked inside)
  • Ensure your animals’ needs for water and shade are met
  • Check on your animals frequently

Medical Care

Recognize the signs of heat related illnesses.

Heat Cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat. Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish fluids. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.

Heat Exhaustion typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion. Move the person to a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, dial 9-1-1.

Heat Stroke (also known as sunstroke) is a life-threatening condition in which a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself. Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin that may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. Dial 9-1-1 immediately. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by giving care as you would for heat exhaustion. If needed, continue rapid cooling by applying ice or cold packs wrapped in a cloth to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits.