Sussex County designates ‘cooling stations’ as heat, humidity settle in ahead of Fourth

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It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July in Sussex County if the thermometer wasn’t rising as fast as a streaking firecracker.

With the big summer holiday nearly upon us, forecasters are predicting extreme heat and high humidity to bake the region the next several days. To help the public cope with the extreme weather, Sussex County has designated four facilities as “cooling stations”, which will be available during this latest heat wave.

National Weather Service forecasters are predicting temperatures through Sunday to inch toward 100 degrees, with heat index values of 105 degrees or more each day. Daytime high temperatures should slide a bit, into the lower 90s, by early next week and last through at least the Independence Day holiday.

County government reminds the public there is a simple way to beat the heat. Just visit any one of these air-conditioned facilities:

County Administration Building
2 The Circle
Georgetown, DE
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. M-F

South Coastal Library
43 Kent Ave.
Bethany Beach, DE
10 a.m.-8 p.m. M-Th; 1-5 p.m. F;
9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat

Milton Library
121 Union Street
Milton, DE
10 a.m.-8 p.m. M-F; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

Greenwood Library
100 Mill Street
Greenwood, DE
10 a.m.-8 p.m. M, T, Th, F;
10 a.m.-5 p.m. W; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

Sussex County paramedics will make routine stops at these locations, as time permits, to answer any heat-related questions and/or concerns. Also, free, individual servings of bottled water will be available at the County Administration Building ONLY to help the public cool off from the heat.

When visiting a relief station, please bring any medications and/or specialty items that you need.

Residents and visitors are urged to limit exposure outside, particularly during the hottest part of the day – roughly from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Those who must be outside should take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of water.

“This extreme heat can make many medical conditions such as heart and lung disease much worse,” said Sussex County Emergency Medical Services Director Robert Stuart. “Staying cool and hydrating with water is essential for everyone when the heat index reaches the levels that have been forecasted.”

Here are some hot weather safety tips:
· Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing. Lighter clothing deflects sunlight, and will not absorb heat like dark materials do;
· Stay in properly ventilated areas;
· Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day;
· Have plenty of water available. Avoid alcoholic beverages;
· Be aware of the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and seek medical attention if necessary. Signs of heat cramps can include muscular pains and spasms from heavy exertion. Resting in a cooler area, taking occasional sips of water and stretching the muscle mildly can counter the effects of heat cramps. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are much more serious, and may require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include a pale or flushed appearance, as well as headache and nausea. Heat stroke symptoms include rapidly increased body temperature, loss of consciousness, rapid or weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing.

Be sure to check on friends, relatives and neighbors, particularly the elderly and young children, who may be at risk for exposure to the heat. Remember to give pets extra water, provide shade or bring them into a residence where temperatures are cooler.

It is also important to keep in mind that due to the higher temperatures and humidity expected in the area over the coming days, demand for electricity will increase. In an effort to reduce costs and avoid power shortages, the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center asks all residents and business operators in Sussex County to help conserve power to avoid outages.

You can help in the conservation of electricity by taking the following steps:
· Set air conditioners to 80 degrees, or use fans instead, and minimize the opening of refrigerators and freezers;
· Limit the use of electric water heaters and turn off non-essential appliances and lights;
· Delay using high-energy appliances, such as washing machines and dryers, until after 8 p.m.;
· Prepare light summer meals that require minimal, if any, cooking. Try using an outdoor grill or microwave oven instead of an electric range;
· Keep window shades, blinds, or drapes closed to block the sunlight during the hottest portion of the day;
· Move lamps, TVs and other heat sources away from air conditioner thermostats. Heat from those appliances is sensed by the thermostat and could cause an air conditioner to run longer than necessary;
· Move furniture and other obstacles from in front of central air conditioning ducts to allow cooler air to circulate through rooms more freely.

Businesses can conserve electricity by:
· Raising thermostats;
· Turning off unnecessary lighting and equipment.

The Sussex County EOC and Sussex County EMS will continue to monitor the weather situation and issue updates as needed.

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