-- E.J. Mundell
THURSDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Relief from the massive
heat wave that has gripped the eastern half of the United States is
coming, meteorologists said Thursday, but it will take a day or two
before a Canadian cold front brings relief to cities along the
Although the cold front will also bring severe thunderstorms
with it, the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast should be bathed
in cooler air by Saturday or Sunday, according to the U.S. National
The largest heat wave of the summer has parked itself over much
of the United States for most of the week, with sizzling
temperatures and high humidity levels making life miserable for
Until the weekend comes, health experts said there are steps
everyone can take to minimize their risk from extreme heat.
One essential step: Check up on elderly or ill relatives living
on their own.
"Due to various reasons, the elderly are prone to suffer from the extreme heat," said Dr. Salvatore Pardo, associate chairman of the emergency department at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.
"It is vital for loved ones and friendly neighbors to enter the home and make sure they have functioning air conditioning or access to a cool environment -- for example, a cooling center, senior center, public shopping mall -- during extreme heat events," he said. "This should be done at the beginning, during and after the extreme heat event."
Dr. Michael Ammazzalorso, chief medical officer at
Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., offered other
potentially lifesaving tips.
Keeping the shades drawn in the daytime can keep homes cooler,
he said, and "if you live in a split-level home, stay downstairs.
Heat rises, so upstairs will always be hotter than your living
room. Open windows upstairs if you have no air conditioning to keep
the room cool, and have a fan blowing."
Alcoholic beverages dehydrate, so stick to water or beverages
without alcohol, sugar or caffeine, Ammazzalorso said. Wear light,
light-colored and loose clothing to stay cooler.
"Let the children play outside in the early morning or early evening when the air quality is at a healthier level and the temperatures are cooler," he added. "Head to a local swimming pool or beach to cool off, but never swim alone and be sure to observe all posted swimming advisories."
According to Ammazzalorso, signs of heat exhaustion include skin
that is cool, moist and pale but may look flushed at times.
Dizziness or fainting, nausea or vomiting, fatigue and headaches
are also potential signs of heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of an even more serious condition known as heat stroke
include red, hot and dry skin, high body temperatures (105 degrees
or above), a rapid and weak pulse, rapid and shallow breathing and
changes in consciousness. In these cases, call 911 immediately,
Precautions also need to be taken to keep your pets safe in the
heat. The Humane Society of the United States recommends the
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has more about
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