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Officials urge safety this summer

Stress hydration, heat precautions

POSTED: June 22, 2013 12:26 a.m.
Alyssa LaRenzie/

Kelcie Carroll, 5, cools off on a recent afternoon at the Old Atlanta Park spray pad. Officials are urging heat safety this summer.

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Summer has officially arrivesd. And with it come temperatures typical of the season in Georgia.

This month has seen a high of 90 degrees in Cumming, but hasn’t yet rivaled last year’s record-setter for the decade of 101.

Whether this summer is one for the books, Forsyth County residents can be sure it’s going to be hot and should take precautions to safely beat the heat.

Heat-related illness or injury, such as heat cramps, exhaustion or stroke, can occur when the body’s internal temperature rises too high.

Inevitably, the Forsyth County Fire Department responds to incidents related to the heat each summer.

Division Chief Jason Shivers said the most common emergency calls related to heat illness involve people playing sports or working outside.

Shivers emphasized the importance of staying hydrated, taking breaks and using the “buddy system” to monitor each other, especially when working or exercising outdoors in the heat.

“Heat injuries typically will occur and damage is sustained before the person realizes they are suffering from a heat-related injury,” he said.

It’s common for people to brush off symptoms of heat illness as fatigue, he said.

Those symptoms are also incorporated in the extreme heat policy for the county’s parks and recreation department.

For sports practices during hot months, participants, parents and coaches need to be aware of the signs of heat illness, said Wayne Maddox, manager of the athletic division.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat illness, it’s important to get that participant out of practice immediately.

“The sooner you take steps to getting them out of a dangerous situation,” he said, “the quicker they recover.”

In addition to heat illness information, the policy includes guidelines for practices in the heat based on a risk factor from one to seven, which requires a cancelation.

The scale number is determined through a reading of heat, humidity and wind, Maddox said.

Regardless of whether the parks department cancels practice, he advised participants and parents to evaluate their own risks and determine whether to attend.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day — not just when outside — is essential for those who spend time outdoors in the heat, including kids participating in sports, Maddox said.

 “If they haven’t been drinking all throughout the day, drinking water just while they’re at practice is not sufficient,” he said.

Shivers recommended limiting outdoor activity to morning and evening hours, if possible, as well as staying indoors or out of the sun during extreme heat.

Other tips include eating well-balanced, light meals, limiting intake of alcoholic beverages and wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face and head.

He also warned against locking people or pets in a closed vehicle.

“Obviously, heat rises extremely fast,” Shivers said. “Damage to the brain and the vital organs of the body can occur within minutes of that door closing.”

The fire department is able to force entry in cases of “imminent danger” to people or pets locked inside, he said.

Shivers suggested keeping a spare key available and taking a moment to think before shutting the door.

If someone is locked inside, he said, people should not hesitate to call 911.

 

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