Ashtabula, Lake and Geauga counties should stay cooler

David Cooper (left) and Dennis Susman, both welder-fabricators, put in new frames for advertising at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds in Jefferson on Thursday afternoon.

Forecasters are predicting temperatures in the 90s and triple-digit heat indexes for today and Saturday for most of Ohio, but the outlook for Ashtabula, Lake and Geauga counties is a little bit cooler, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

Temperatures are expected to rise to the mid to upper 80s, but feel like the upper 90s because of stifling humidity for those three counties, according to Christine Riley, a meteorologist with the NWS in Cleveland.

A heat advisory is issued when the anticipated heat index — a formula based on air temperature and humidity — reaches or exceeds 100 degrees.

The index is expected to hit that level today in central and northwest Ohio, but not locally, she said.

“It will not be quite as warm as the rest of the state,” Riley said. “There’s not an ‘excessive heat watch’ for Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties.”

Even so, the National Weather Service, the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Health remind residents that extreme heat and humidity should be treated with the same care and preparation as a summer storm.

“Our bodies are usually very good at controlling their temperature, but extremely hot conditions over an extended period of time can stress even the most efficient system,” said Amy Acton, a physician and director of the Ohio Department of Health. “Factors that can interfere with a body’s ability to adapt to hot weather include age, obesity, dehydration, heart disease and medications.”

As people age, their bodies can’t handle extreme conditions as well as when they were younger, said Ursel McElroy, director of the Ohio Department of Aging.

“Know your limitations and balance activity with measures to help your body stay cool,” she said. “Check on older loved ones and neighbors regularly, since they are at increased risk for heat-related illness and complications.”

To stay cool during extremely hot days, the experts recommend everyone:

• Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages and avoid extremely cold liquids and beverages with high levels of sugar or caffeine;

• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing and rest frequently;

• Don’t leave anyone — people or pets — in a vehicle unattended;

• Plan outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening;

• Take cool baths or showers, and

• Seek an air-conditioned environment, such as a store, restaurant, public library, or a family member’s or neighbor’s home, if the indoor temperature in your home is higher than is comfortable.

The Ashtabula Senior Center, 4148 Main Ave., is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today, and anyone is welcome to come by just to get cooled off, if needed, said Barbell Baginski, receptionist. The center is closed on Saturday.

The departments also urge Ohioans to learn the warning signs of heat-related illnesses and know what to do if you or an older loved one shows symptoms.

Heat cramps are muscle pains and spasms, mostly in the legs, caused by dehydration and exertion. Though not life-threatening, heat cramps can be very painful. To prevent and treat heat cramps, drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic liquids, rest and stay in a cool environment.

Heat exhaustion is caused by heavy sweating and results in not enough fluids to support your vital organs. Symptoms include cool, moist, pale, flushed, or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness and lack of energy. Heat exhaustion is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness, so seek medical attention and take steps to reduce the body temperature and increase hydration. These include moving to a cooler environment, drinking cool drinks, loosening or removing clothing, and cooling the body with wet towels or a cool shower or bath.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition in which the individual’s body is no longer able to control its own internal temperature. Signs of heat stroke include hot, red, and dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, short breathing; and high fever. Heat stroke can also cause disorientation or strange behavior, which may be more difficult to identify in an individual with dementia. Seek emergency medical attention immediately if you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing heat stroke.

During extreme summer weather, including very hot days, everyone should check on older loved ones and neighbors to ensure they are safe and healthy and have the resources to stay that way.

• Is the temperature in their home comfortable? Do they have safe means to keep it that way if it stays hot outside?

Do they have safe food and water? Are they eating and drinking regularly?

Do they have someone to call if they need help?

Ohioans who live in nursing homes can also be at increased risk from extreme heat. The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman at the Department of Aging advises family members and concerned friends to call loved ones’ nursing homes to check conditions there and ask how the facility is staffed. Call 1-800-282-1206 for assistance.