COLUMBUS — Ohioans are facing record high June heat this week. Experts cautioned keeping cool is as much about health and safety as it is about comfort.
High temperatures combined with humidity make it difficult for the body’s natural cooling system — sweating — to work efficiently.
Kevin Brennan, communications officer for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, added dehydration can occur, especially when a person is outside exerting themselves.
“You also run the risk of heat cramps or heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and those come with prolonged activity, prolonged exposure to the sun,” Brennan explained. “You’re not getting a chance to breathe effectively, so a lot of the heat gets trapped inside your body.”
Older adults, children, people with disabilities and those who work outdoors are at most risk for a heat-related illness. Brennan recommended staying hydrated and avoiding sugary, alcoholic or heavily-caffeinated drinks, which can lead to dehydration. Also, limit time spent outdoors to the morning and evening hours and wear lightweight, light-colored, loosefitting clothing.
If your home does not have air conditioning, Brennan suggested spending time cooling off at a local library or shopping mall. Or call the county board of health to find a cooling center in the community. Fans can also be helpful to keep air moving. He also noted turning off lights during the day and reducing other energy use can be helpful.
“What we all want to make sure, if we can, is if we have a supply of food we want to make sure that our refrigerator doesn’t go out if possible, and leave us without the ability to have cold water and fresh food for a period of time,” Brennan emphasized. “So reducing electrical consumption, keeping your drapes closed, just trying to reflect the heat off of your house.”
Brennan also reminded Ohioans to avoid leaving children and pets inside a car during the summer months. When it’s 90 degrees outside, the inside temperature of a car can reach 138 degrees.
Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.