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Too hot? Tips for cooling off and staying healthy

LAKE COUNTY, CA (August 19, 2020) – With the very hot weather and smoky conditions we are facing, Lake County Public Health wants to remind everyone of some simple ways to find relief that could be important to your health.  Efforts to tolerate the extreme heat are more complicated this year due to the COVID pandemic, but there are still some actions you can take.
 
Some people are at particular risk for suffering heat illness due to an impaired ability to sweat and control their body temperature.  These include the very young and those of advanced age, as well as people taking certain medications.  Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are uncertain about how your medications may affect you.  Examples of medications that increase the risk of heat-related illness include diuretics (“water pills”), some medications used for mental health conditions, antihistamines, and drugs used for overactive bladder.
 
Things you can do to cool off are:
• Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty
• Wear loosely fitting, light colored, breathable clothes
• Keep your physical activity low
• Drink cool non-alcoholic beverages and choose salads, cold sandwiches and frozen treats over hot meals
• Apply cool compresses, such as wet towels, to exposed skin, or take a cool shower or bath
• Avoid use of ovens, stoves, or other heat-generating appliances indoors
 
Remember, running a fan will help cool you off only if there is sweat or moisture evaporating from your skin.
 
If you need relief from hot conditions in your home, in past years we have recommended going to public places with air conditioning, such as local libraries, senior centers, restaurants, and shopping centers.  Many of these places are not available this year due to the COVID concerns.  Senior centers are closed.  You can still go to shopping centers, but often the seating areas are not open.  Going to visit friends who have air conditioning can also pose a problem due to needs to social distance.
 
Per our County Librarian, Christopher Veach, the Lakeport and Redbud (Clearlake) Libraries are both open their normal hours, and freely accessible to the public.  Both facilities are being cooled, and may be utilized on a limited basis by members of the community.  If either reaches capacity, a one-hour time limit will be enforced.
 
Middletown Library is open by appointment only, but can still serve as a cooling center for a one hour appointment.
 
Unfortunately, Upper Lake Library is too small to function as a cooling center.
 
Lakeport Library (Main)
‪1425 N. High Street
‪Lakeport, CA 95453
‪(707) 263-8817
Tue 10-5 | Wed 10-7 | ‪Thu-Sat 10-5
 
Redbud Library (Clearlake)
‪14785 Burns Valley Rd
‪Clearlake, CA 95422
‪(707) 994-5115
Tue 10-5 | Wed 12-7 | ‪Thu-Sat 10-5
 
Middletown Library
‪21256 Washington Street
‪Middletown, CA 95461
‪(707) 987-3674
OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
‪Tue-Fri 12-5 | Sat 10-3
 
Monitor how you feel and how friends and family members appear.  Signs and symptoms of heat illness can be easily overlooked in the early stages and it is important to take action early in order to prevent heat exhaustion from progressing to the more serious condition of heat stroke.   
 
If you notice heavy sweating, feeling weak or dizzy, nausea or muscle cramps, move to a cool place, sip water, and put cool wet cloths on your body.   If this does not improve the symptoms within an hour, medical evaluation is advisable.
 
People who develop mental confusion, feel faint or pass out and have hot dry skin (indicating that they are not capable of sweating in order to cool off), have a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment.   
 
Remember to protect pets by keeping them indoors (never in a car) or in the shade with plenty of cool water to drink.
                                                                                                
For more information on how to beat the heat, visit:
https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.html
https://www.caloes.ca.gov/ICESite/Pages/Summer-Heat-Resources.aspx
 
Gary Pace, MD MPH

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