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Prepare Now for High Heat and Humidity

OSWEGO COUNTY – With temperatures expected to rise this weekend and continue into next week, Oswego County officials are urging people to be cautious in their activities. Oswego County’s Emergency Management Office, Health Department and Office for the Aging provided advice for residents to better manage the extreme heat in the forecast.

“Heat can be a killer,” Oswego County Emergency Management Office Director Cathleen Palmitesso said. “It’s still early to tell, but the forecast for the upcoming week indicates our area may see several days of 90 degrees and higher with humidity. People should start to think about how they can prevent heat-related illnesses.”

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang agreed, saying that air conditioning is the best way to prevent heat-related illness and death. “If a home is not air-conditioned, people can spend time in public facilities that are.”

The National Weather Service says extreme heat events are expected to become more common, more severe, and longer lasting in the U.S. Extreme heat events are a period of at least two to three days of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees.

“This combination of hot weather and high humidity can cause heat-related illnesses to set in, which could lead to death,” said Palmitesso.

“Everyone should be aware of the warning signs of heat-related illness and take special care of those most at-risk,” Huang added. “People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies cannot cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. When humidity levels are high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat in a timely way.”

Heat stroke occurs when the body cannot regulate its temperature. It can cause death or permanent disability if not treated right away. Warning signs include extremely high body temperature; red, hot, or dry skin (no sweating); throbbing headache; dizziness, nausea, or confusion; or unconsciousness.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness. It can develop after multiple days of exposure to high temperatures without proper hydration. If left untreated, it can progress to a more serious heat stroke. Symptoms include heavy sweating; paleness; muscle cramps; tiredness, weakness, or dizziness; headache, nausea, or vomiting; and fainting.

“Anyone who experiences serious signs and symptoms of heat-related illness should call 911 or seek medical care immediately,” said Palmitesso.

Those who are at highest risk of heat-related illness include people aged 65 years and older, children younger than two years of age, and people who are pregnant, have chronic diseases or mental illness.

“Seniors are especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses,” said Oswego County Office for the Aging Director Sara Sunday. “They are more likely to have chronic health issues and may take medication that prevents their bodies from regulating their temperatures. They may also have other risk factors, such as living alone or not having air conditioning in their home.

“To avoid heat stress, it’s vital that seniors take precautions,” she continued. “They should follow their doctor’s guidance to hydrate properly and stay indoors – ideally with air conditioning – during the hottest part of the day. Wearing lightweight clothing and avoiding strenuous activities will also help.”

People should make sure to connect with family members, friends and neighbors and remind them to take protective actions during extreme heat events.

The National Weather Service recommends the following tips:

  • Hydrate. Whether you feel thirsty or not, drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated, especially when you are working or exercising outside.
  • Educate yourself. Keep up with the latest temperature and heat index forecasts and current readings. Take actions to stay cool and safe when the temperature hits 85 degrees or the heat index hits 90 degrees. Know the warning signs of heat illness and how you can stay cool.
  • Act quickly when a heat illness is suspected. Seek medical attention immediately for any of these warning signs: cramping, rapid pulse, heavy sweating, hot red skin, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Take it easy. Anyone working or exercising outdoors should avoid over-exertion, especially between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Take hourly breaks in the shade or in air conditioning.

The Oswego County Health Department also advises residents to take precautions:

  • Take a cool shower or bath to cool down.
  • Drink plenty of water. Try to avoid liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar. These cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks as they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if possible, in an air-conditioned place. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Remember your pets can be vulnerable to heat too. Make sure they have shade, plenty of water, and never leave them in a parked vehicle – even with a window open.

“The best time to prepare for an extreme heat event is before it happens,” Palmitesso said. “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest checking your household fans, air conditioners and other cooling equipment each spring to make sure they are in good working order. They also recommend making other improvements around your home, such as planting trees in strategic locations, installing a cool roof, and using cool paving materials in your driveway.

“Finally, be sure to check the weather before heading outside and sign up for heat alerts,” she said.

People can sign up for weather alerts on NY Alert at www.alert.ny.gov or download the FEMA app at to receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service. More tips about extreme heat are available at www.ready.gov/heat.