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Extreme Heat Brings Warnings for Area Residents PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 10 October 2012 04:32

As the temperatures soar into the high nineties and above this summer, both man and beast are finding the extreme weather to be most uncomfortable.  The long dry periods without rain are causing a drought in our area that has lead to the National Weather Service issuing a ban on open burning.  This year the weather is cause for concern among homeowners, local first responders and farmers alike. 

By late June of 2011 the area had received over six inches of rain compared to the normal for this area.  This year, local communities are experiencing well under six inches of normal precipitation for the month of June.  The combination of heat and drought may change the lifestyle of local residents as we approach the July 4th holiday traditionally known for outdoor activities and fireworks.

According to Mad River Township Fire Department Chief David Leist, the National Weather Service has issued a warning for the area related to fire.  The area has not seen rain since Father’s Day weekend leading the department to discourage open burning.  The extremely dry conditions in the Miami Valley also pose a threat to local fire departments that may be called out to battle fires along roadways sparked by a careless cigarette or vehicle sparking grass fires.  Although the Enon area has not yet experienced an event, Leist encouraged residents to be careful when having a fire pit or barbeque.  He suggested that residents should have a water source available such as a hose or large bucket and if a fire does out occur, call for support from the fire department.  Chief Leist also encouraged residents not to hold open burns of trash or brush until the weather conditions change and the area receives substantial rain. 

According to Dan Chatfield of the Clark County Combined Health District, safety during the extreme heat is encouraged for local residents.  Keeping cool is a must for all ages to avoid a potential health crisis.  He encourages residents to check on elderly and special needs neighbors and family members during the hot weather.  Wearing light weight and light colored clothing during the hot weather is recommended.  Drinking water or sports drinks help the body to maintain however alcohol should be avoided during times of extreme heat.  Taking a shower or bath helps to lower body temperature for those who do not have air conditioning.  Residents are encouraged to use fans for cooling and to open windows to avoid heat buildup in homes and apartments without A/C.  Chatfield recommended taking a trip to a cooling station such as the local mall or library for those without air at home.  Signs of heat exhaustion include dry skin, disorientation, anything in actions that seem out of the ordinary or speech changes are an indication of the need for possible medical intervention. 

The Miami Valley is officially under drought conditions leading some to question the water supply.  Rachel Townsend of the health district explained that Clark County is fortunate to be positioned where ground water resources are part of an ancient aquifer.  She stated that it would take more than “one year” for a drought to impact on the water supply in local wells and public water systems.  Anyone experiencing a temporary disturbance in well water would be due to “local draw down” which is caused by a number of users in the same area perhaps watering or filling pools.  Individual homes could have problems depending on how deep their well was drilled, however the health department has had no reports of well problems to date.  Both Chatfield and Townsend encouraged conserving water at any time regardless of the drought.  They suggested that low flow faucets and toilets help homeowners to conserve water resources.  They encouraged homeowners to water gardens and flower beds early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid evaporation.  Regional lawn care experts have suggested that the drought will leave lawns brown and dry, however once the rain returns, most well established lawns will recover.

During times of hot and humid conditions, pet care can be a concern.  The likelihood increases for pet owners needing health care intervention with our furry friends if precautions are not taken.  Dogs left in extreme heat can experience heat stroke.  Unlike their human companion, a dog cannot change out of his heavy fur coat.  Owners need to be aware of things that are often taken for granted such as making sure that your pet cannot be caught accidentally without shade.  Shade from a dog house in this extreme heat may not be enough for your pet.  You can rig up a tarp to cover the pet area if trees are not available.  If your pet is on a chain, make sure that nothing can tangle and keep the pet from the shade area.  Pets left indoors without air conditioning may need to be placed in the basement or have a fan going in the area of an indoor kennel.  Fresh cool water is needed at all times.  Increase the size of the bowl for your outside pet and consider adding some ice early in the day on extreme heat days.  Taking your dog for a long walk or jog in the heat of the day can become life-threatening.  Exercise should be planned for late evening or early morning and be sure to bring along extra water. 

Signs of heat stroke in a dog include excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue or gums, staggering, stupor, seizures and in more severe cases, bloody diarrhea or vomiting.  Don’t forget that your cat also needs access to extra water and they too need the option of a fan if left in a home without air conditioning.  Cats are more likely to seek a cooler space as they are not kept confined to kennels in most circumstances.  Other furry creatures should be given shade and plenty of water during the hot and humid days ahead.

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