Much like a see-saw at a park, the temperature has been up and down over the last few weeks. With the beginning of summer just a week away, local emergency personnel are offering fair warning and precautions for the pending heat.
Local temperatures have reached in the upper 90s since the beginning of June, and while cool days and nights are expected over the coming weekend, the official start to summer is June 21 and forecasters are calling for temperatures to reach in the upper 90s again.
According to Erick Herring, operations chief with Sampson County Emergency Management, dehydration is the biggest obstacle that many people face during this time of year. The problem, he said, is that citizens don’t keep themselves hydrated ahead of the time they spend outside.
“You can’t hydrate 30 minutes before you go outside, you have to start hydrating hours before and continue to hydrate while you are out there,” Herring stated.
Herring warned, while the process of staying hydrated may seem simple, he said that many people don’t think about and plan times to be outside and often choose the hottest times of the day to do their yard work or go outside to play.
Now that children are out of school and many outdoor local camps are being held, Herring said it’s as important as ever to warn everyone of the problems high heat temperatures can cause, if not properly considered.
“You have to stay hydrated,” Herring admonished. “It’s important to drink plenty of fluids before activities, during activities and after activities.”
Herring cautioned — carbonated and caffeinated drinks aren’t the solution. Water, Gatorade and Powerade are the best choices when trying to keep the body hydrated and electrolytes replenished.
Many people get into trouble when they participate in activities outside and forget to drink anything before hand, and most especially afterwards. This, Herring said, causes many problems and can lead to heat exhaustion. When making yourself aware of the signs of heat exhaustion, Herring said to look for confusion and disorientation. Another warning sign of heat exhaustion, he added, is the lack of sweating.
“Once you stop sweating, there is a true emergency,” Herring said. “If these signs occur, call 911 immediately. It’s important to get out of the heat and cool off when these signs start happening. Just make sure emergency services is on the way.”
In the event of heat exhaustion, Herring said, placing a cool rag on the neck or groin area can assist someone with the cooling off process.
If someone does need to go outside, he advised, the best times of the day are early morning or late afternoon. From sun up to about 10 a.m., Herring said working or playing outside is fine. Someone can still run into trouble when outside in the late afternoon hours, but that time is better than the middle of the afternoon.
Planning activities according to the weather pattern, Herring added, is also a great idea. He encourages everyone to follow the weather forecast and choose to do outdoor activities on the days that offer much cooler temperatures.
For Clinton High School soccer coach Brad Spell, picking the coolest time of the day is important when it comes to practice with players. Spell, along with the high school soccer team, is hosting soccer camp this week. The camp is from 8:30-11:30 each morning, to make sure the players stay as cool as possible.
“We make sure we watch the players at all times,” Spell pointed out. “I offer the kids a lot of water breaks in between and even turn on the irrigation system to cool them off.”
Before kicking off the second day of camp, Spell reminded participants that it was important to continue hydrating throughout the day, even once they left camp and went home.
Both Herring and Spell stressed the importance of staying hydrated and drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, and not just while the activity is taking place. Otherwise, Spell said, it may be too late, thus causing the person to suffer from heat exhaustion.
“Constantly stay hydrated,” Herring reiterated. “Even the night before, it’s important to drink plenty of water.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.