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Temperatures have been holding in the high 80-degree range for days, causing irritation and inconvenience for some and real danger for others. Madison Ambulance Association Director Chris Bernier said there are certain basic practices all residents should try to follow.
“It’s important to stay hydrated and certainly to minimize strenuous activity,” he said. “If you have any heart conditions or cardiac related problems, it is the same thing as if you were shoveling heavy, wet snow—you don’t want to be out there if you have cardiac conditions...You want to minimize strenuous activity in the heat and sun and humidity.”
Certain segments of the populations including the elderly, young children, and pregnant women can be at higher risk during weather like this, so Bernier said it’s good to keep an eye on your neighbors as well as yourself.
“Check on your friends and neighbors, especially if they don’t have air conditioning, and check on the elderly,” he said. “Those tips are always important to check to make sure people are doing OK.”
If residents are out and about in the heat, Bernier said it is also important to remember how fast a car interior can heat up in these temperatures.
“You don’t want to leave your child in a car for any amount of time at all, because the temperature inside the vehicle can increase rapidly,” he said. “The same thing for pets as well. You never want to leave animals in the car.”
While the ambulance department hasn’t reported an uptick in calls during this heat wave, Bernier said it’s important for folks to also know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke so they can seek proper help for themselves or others if necessary.
A person suffering from heat exhaustion will feel faint of dizzy, have excessive sweating, cool and clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, a rapid and weak pulse, and muscle cramps. A person exhibiting those symptoms should get in air conditioning quickly, drink water, and take a cool shower or use cold compresses.
A person suffering from heat stroke will have a throbbing headache; no sweating; red, hot, and dry skin; nausea or vomiting; and a rapid and strong pulse and may lose consciousness. If a person is seen with these symptoms, call 911 immediately and take action to try to cool the person until help arrives.
In hot temperatures, the Town of Madison often opens cooling centers including the Senior Center. The town will issue an announcement if a cooling center is open. Bernier said in this kind of weather, residents need to be cognizant of their health.
“The main thing is to really try to take it easy in the hot weather and keep hydrated overall,” he said.
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