Sussex County has a way to put this July’s oppressive heat and humidity on ice, with four designated “cooling stations” at the ready for anyone who needs a break from what forecasters expect will be the summer’s hottest weather yet to come.
National Weather Service forecasters this week are predicting temperatures the next several days to top 90 degrees, with heat index values near or exceeding 100 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday, and possibly maxing out at 115 degrees by Saturday. There is the chance of heavy thunderstorms Wednesday night into Thursday as the remnants of Hurricane Barry move through the region, but those storms are not expected to provide long-lasting relief from the summer sizzle.
Sussex County reminds the public that select County facilities are always available as “cooling stations” in the summer during their regular business hours, offering the public a respite from the heat and humidity. The air-conditioned sites include:
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.
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.
County residents also are reminded to create a Safety Profile for their household and loved ones with the County’s free Smart911 service, which provides potentially critical, life-saving information to first responders in an emergency. Profiles can contain as much or as little information as users want, including details about their properties, special medical conditions and family contacts. Visit www.smart911.com to get started.
The Sussex County EOC and Sussex County EMS will continue to monitor the weather situation and issue updates as needed. Follow along on the EOC and EMS social media pages on Facebook and Twitter, at www.facebook.com/SussexCountyEOC, www.twitter.com/SussexCtyDE_EOC, www.facebook.com/SussexCountyEMS and www.twitter.com/SussexCoDE_EMS.
For more information, please call the EOC at (302) 855-7801 or Sussex County EMS at (302) 854-5050.