Published in the July 19, 2019 edition.
Our area is expected to see excessive heat and humidity over the weekend, and many agencies and municipalities are urging that you use much caution in the days ahead.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), for example, has released a situational awareness statement.
• The National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting excessive heat Friday through Sunday. Hot temperatures combined with high humidity levels are expected to create dangerous heat conditions, with the most oppressive conditions expected Saturday.
• High temperatures Friday-Sunday are forecast to be in the 90s to lower 100s, and dew points in the low- to mid-70s. Heat index values are expected to reach the mid- to upper-90s Friday, 100 to 110 Saturday, and 97 to 105 Sunday, with the highest values occurring on Saturday in eastern Massachusetts and parts of the Connecticut River valley.
• The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for most of Massachusetts for Saturday from 11 a.m. through 9 p.m. NWS may issue additional heat-related watches, warnings, or advisories for Friday and/or Sunday.
• Prolonged exposure to heat and humidity will increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.
• Cities and towns planning to open cooling centers are asked to share this information with their MEMA Regional office or MEMA’s 24/7 communications center at 508-820-2000, or post the information directly into WebEOC. Mass211 will utilize information posted on WebEOC to share with the public.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Emergency Waiver
• The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Emergency Medical Services has issued a waiver allowing EMS providers to transport to local shelters/cooling centers as needed. This waiver is in effect from Friday, July 19 at 8 a.m. through Monday, July 22 at 8 a.m.
One of the most common dangers during the summer is the possibility of a heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion or disorientation, headaches, and nausea. Heat stroke is the most serious of all heat-related illnesses, so be especially aware of this combination of symptoms: a high body temperature (103 degrees or higher), rapid pulse, and red, hot, dry skin.
People age 65 or over, children age four or younger, and people who are overweight, ill or taking certain medications are at the greatest risk of developing a heat-induced illness. However, by taking a few simple precautions, it’s easy to stay safe in the sun and enjoy your summer.
• In high temperatures, your body needs to stay hydrated to function properly, so remember to drink plenty of water.
• Schedule strenuous outdoor activities around dawn or dusk. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays cause the most damage between 10 a.m to 4 p.m.
• Eat light and well balanced meals that won’t weigh you down.
• Escape the heat by taking refuge in a good book at an air-conditioned Massachusetts public library. Or cool off at one of the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s many public pools and spray decks!
• Wear cool, lightweight clothing. Dark colors attract more heat, so spice up your wardrobe with some bright colors this summer.
• Using air conditioning to cool your home can be expensive; stay cool and save money by setting your thermostat to higher temperatures when you aren’t home. If you don’t have A/C, remember that heat rises. If you live in a multi-story home, stick to the lower floors.
• When outside for extended periods of time, take shelter in shaded areas such as underneath awnings or trees. Wear an SPF 15 (or higher) sunscreen, a light, long-sleeved shirt, or a hat to avoid getting burned.
• Pets are also at risk of heat stroke. Don’t leave a pet outside, or in a hot vehicle, for long periods of time, and make sure they always have plenty of fresh water.
• Keep drapes or blinds shut on windows that let in mid-day sunlight.
If you’re feeling overly fatigued after a long day in the sun, call your doctor or visit the Center For Disease Control for more information on the treatment and care of those suffering from heat-related illnesses.