Heat safety resources now available through the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services – OBX Today

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Heat-related illnesses accounted for nearly 4,000 emergency department visits in North Carolina between May 1 and September 30 of last year. This highlights the importance of staying informed and taking preventative measures when it comes to the risks of heat exposure.

To help residents prepare for extreme heat, the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services has developed an educational web page designed to share information on heat-related illnesses as well as tips on how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your pets when temperatures reach dangerous levels.

North Carolina summers are warming and becoming longer, with abnormally hot days and nights increasingly occurring in the spring and fall. Studies in North Carolina have revealed that heat-related illnesses are most common in rural locations, potentially due to residents in those regions engaging in more outdoor occupational labor and other factors.

“We strive to do everything we can to reduce the health impacts of rising temperatures and heat waves, and encourage residents to practice heat safety as we move into the summer months,” said Dare County Department of Health & Human Services Director Dr. Sheila Davies. “Heat-related deaths are preventable and it is vital that we all protect ourselves and others from the impacts of heat exposure.”

The website, which can be found by typing DareNC.Gov/HeatSafety into a web browser, also includes a list of Dare County Cool Zones, which are a network of free, air-conditioned settings. Dare Department of Health & Human Services has partnered with Dare County libraries to establish the first official Cool Zones in the community. These Cool Zones allow respite from the heat, giving residents a place to cool down and reduce their risk of developing heat-related illnesses.

“Many in our community find shelter in our libraries throughout the year, whether they come looking for a place to rest between daily obligations or are seeking a quiet spot to think. As a public facility, anyone and everyone is welcome to spend time in our three locations,” says Meaghan Leenaarts Beasley, head of Dare County Library. “By partnering with Dare DHHS and becoming a recognized Cool Zone, we hope to raise awareness for those in our area who do not know that a Public Library isn’t just books and free WiFi, but a place for respite from the elements, as well.”

The newly launched web page also includes helpful heat safety tips for employers, at-risk populations, coaches and schools as well as parents and pet owners.

Extreme heat can cause a variety of dangerous and potentially life-threatening health problems if not treated promptly. These conditions include heat exhaustion, heat stroke and heat cramps. If you or someone you know shows symptoms of heat-related illness, such as nausea, dizziness or confusion, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

There are some important steps you can take this summer to practice heat safety and prevent heat-related illness. These include staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day; avoiding strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day; wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and a hat to protect yourself from the sun; and seeking out-air-conditioned spaces or using fans to stay cool.

During a heat wave, always remember to check on vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and young children to ensure they are staying cool and hydrated.

If you would like your organization’s facility to become a Dare County Cool Zone, please fill out this form. For more information on heat-related illnesses or heat safety, please visit DareNc.Gov/HeatSafety.