Montgomery County Urges Residents to take Precautions During Excessive Heat

by Patrick Herron

“We encourage residents to take precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Acting Director Marianne Souders. “Check on elderly friends, relatives and neighbors to ensure they are not showing signs of heat-related illnesses.”

Extreme heat affects the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which can create dangerous conditions if appropriate safety measures are not taken. Heat may affect air quality, especially in urban areas, and may have a stronger impact on the elderly, children. and sick persons.

During excessive heat, homeless shelters operate under a hyperthermia alert and residents may stay in the shelter 24/7. Individuals without shelter or residents concerned about the well-being of a homeless individual can call the 24-hour Homeless Information Line at 240-907-2688. Outreach partners will attempt to locate the individual and offer resources and support.

Residents are asked to check on elderly friends, relatives and neighbors who may be isolated to be sure they are not showing signs of heat-related illnesses. County facilities, including libraries, swimming pools, recreation, and senior centers, as well as regional services centers, and shopping malls are places to cool off during normal operating hours.

The County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS) issues heat-related alerts when conditions meet the following:

  • Hyperthermia Alert is announced when the National Weather Service forecasts temperatures and/or heat indices to be greater than 95 degrees.
  • A Heat Emergency Alert is issued when County-wide temperatures and/or heat index are forecasted to be 105 F or higher and at least one of the following conditions: hot temperatures are expected to last for two days or more; the nighttime temperature will not drop below 75 degrees, or there are other weather threats determined by OEMHS.

The following precautions will help residents remain safe and comfortable during excessive heat days:

  • Stay indoors, whenever possible. Visit nearby air-conditioned buildings in your community if your home is not air-conditioned. In addition to County facilities, residents can visit shopping malls, movie theaters and museums.
  • Be careful to avoid strenuous activities that can result in overexposure to the sun, such as sports and gardening. If you must do a strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning before 9 a.m.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration, cramps, exhaustion, or heat stroke can result from not drinking enough fluids. Water is the safest liquid to drink.
  • Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • When outdoors, wear proper protection from the sun. Light-colored clothing, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen protection are recommended.
  • Never leave pets, young children, or vulnerable adults in a car for ANY amount of time, even with the window open, because the temperature inside parked cars can reach 130 degrees in only a few minutes.
  • Monitor those at high risk. Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include:
    • Infants and children up to four years of age;
    • Individuals 65 years of age and older;
    • Individuals who are ill or on certain medications; and
    • Individuals who are overweight.
  • Knowing the signs of heat exposure can prevent serious illness from becoming life threatening. Should any of the following occur, get out of the heat, loosen any tight or heavy clothing, and drink plenty of water:
    • Heat cramps: symptoms include painful muscle spasms, usually involving the abdominal muscles or legs;
    • Heat exhaustion: first signs are cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin, dizziness, nausea, headache, and weakness; and
    • Heat stroke: the most serious sign of overexposure. Symptoms include red, hot, dry skin, weak pulse, rapid breathing, and changes in consciousness. Seek medical attention by calling 9-1-1.

Sign up for the County’s Alert Montgomery notification system to receive emergency alerts regarding weather and other emergency information. The Alert Montgomery System provides accurate and immediate emergency notifications from Montgomery County to your cell, work, or home phones via text, email, or voice message to receive notifications about emergencies that may affect your home, workplace, child’s school, or any other locations within the County.

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