GHS graduation pushed back an hour, town offers heat tips

With the town expected to receive dangerous heat and humidity conditions on Wednesday, the Department of Health has issued safety tips for residents.

Already the heat has forced a slight delay in the start of Greenwich High School’s graduation. The ceremony was originally supposed to start at 6 p.m. but now it will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, at Cardinal Stadium. Additionally, because heat-related illnesses are considered a public health threat, the Health Department is stressing that it’s important to stay healthy during a heat wave.

The warning was specifically targeted toward people who are young, elderly, have medical or mental health conditions, use medications that impede body temperature regulation, those who do not have air conditioning and people who are socially isolated.

The Department of Health advises:

• Keep children and pets inside, except for brief stays outdoors. Always avoid direct sunlight exposure

• If you don’t have to go out, stay indoors. Spend time in air-conditioning if possible. Electric fans can also be used to exhaust air from rooms. Do not use them to blow air on yourself.

• Avoid strenuous activities as much as possible. Early morning and evening hours are best if you must exercise

• Drink plenty of fluids regardless of your activity. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol or those with large amounts of sugar and salt. Those who are on a restricted fluid intake should check with their physician

• Wear lightweight, light colored and loose fitting clothing

• Never leave any person or pet in a parked vehicle

• Don’t leave food items in the car or outdoors — food spoils quickly

• Take a cool shower, bath or move into an air conditioned space to cool off

• Eat light, cool, easy to digest foods

• Rest often in shady areas, especially if you are working outdoors

• Wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen with UV protection of 15 or higher. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Additionally, residents should visit or regularly check on infants and young children, people over age 65 and frail elderly and those who have a medical condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, obesity, high blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease or mental illness like cognitive and psychiatric disorders.

There are medical conditions attributable to excessive heat exposure and the department stressed that knowing the signs and symptoms of a heat-related illness could save your life:

• Heat stroke — Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call for emergency medical assistance immediately by dialing 9-1-1. If possible, move the person into a cool or air-conditioned environment. Signs of heat stroke may include headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, high body temperature, difficulty breathing, rapid and strong pulse. Skin may be hot and dry or the person may be sweating. Reduce body temperature with air-conditioning, fanning, water sponging and remove clothing if necessary. Avoid giving fluids.

• Heat exhaustion — This condition will give rise to heavy sweating, weakness and cool, pale clammy skin. The person may experience muscle cramps, dizziness, fainting, nausea and vomiting. Although body temperature may be normal there will be a weak pulse. Move the person out of the sun into a cool environment and apply a cool wet cloth while they are lying down. Give sips of water until feeling better, however if vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.

• Heat cramps — This condition will give rise to painful cramps and muscle spasms in the legs or abdomen. Heavy sweating may also be present. Move the person out of the heat into a cool environment and gently massage the cramping muscle. Give sips of water unless nausea occurs or there are fluid restrictions.

Heat related illness and death can be preventable by knowing the symptoms and risk factors that contribute to them. Spending a few hours in an air conditioned location can help your body stay cooler. If you don’t have air conditioning, try spending time with friends or family members who do, visit Greenwich libraries, visit shopping malls or go to the movies

For more information contact the Greenwich Department of Health by calling 203-622-7836 or at Greenwichct.org.

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