October 23, 2021

Feeling the heat, finding the cool

Forecast calls for high temperatures, humidity for rest of week

S.N. Briere/ staff reporter

Hayden Stage, 4, of Homer enjoys the sprinklers at the splash pad in Suggett Park Monday afternoon. His mom Kimberly Stage and grandma Kathleen McCall decided to bring him to the park to stay cool in the water. Temperatures are expected to increase, getting into the 90s this week.

Hayden Stage, 4, of Homer ran smiling through the splash pad at Suggett Park on Monday afternoon as the sun beat down. He stopped under one of the water sprinklers just as it dumped cold water on his head, drenching him.

Stage wasn’t the only kid trying to escape the heat — by 1 p.m., a dozen children were at the pad racing around the sprinklers and quickly hitting the button in the middle of the pad to restart the sprinklers whenever the water fizzled out.

“There’s not much open anymore, so you have to take advantage of what you can,” said Kimberly Stage, Hayden’s mother.

Temperatures in Cortland County reached 90 degrees and the heat isn’t expected to let up anytime soon this week.

“It’s going to be close” to a heatwave, said Theodore Champney, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Binghamton.

A heatwave is three days in a row of 90 degrees or more, he said.

“Syracuse will definitely have it, he said. “They’ve been close to 90 the last couple of days.”

The high temperatures are expected to continue throughout the week, either getting close to reaching 90 degrees or going above that. Thursday is currently expected to be the hottest day this week, with a high temperature of 91 degrees expected, according to the National Weather Service website. A heat advisory was put in place from 1 p.m. Tuesday to 8 p.m. Wednesday. A hazardous weather outlook has also been issued because of expected thunderstorms and the heat index — what it feels like to someone outside — getting into the high 90s, almost 100 degree range by Thursday and Friday.

Champney said a heat advisory would likely be issued when the heat index reaches 95 degrees. That advisory also factors in the temperature with humidity.

“The humidity is going to be increasing every day,” he said. “Thursday and Friday will have high heat and high humidity making it feel warm.”

Although the temperatures are expected to keep creeping up, Cortland County Emergency Response and Communications Director Scott Roman said a burn ban has yet to be put in place.

“The county does not have a burn ban, the DEC (state Department of Environmental Conservation) is talking about it,” he said. “That would have to be statewide in order for it to be effective.”

However, he said the Weather Service could issue a red flag meaning no open burns. But that’s unlikely, Champney said, because that flag requires winds over 20 mph.
“We’re not going to have that,” Champney said.

Either way, Roman suggests if people are going to have fires outdoors that they have a hose or extinguisher in case conditions change and the fire starts to get out of control.

Sophie Hamilton and her father, Dave Hamilton, escaped Monday’s heat by hiding out under the shade of the trees at Courthouse Park.

“He was very excited about the shade,” said Sophie Hamilton.

The two were waiting for Sophie’s car to be repaired after it began acting up while she was driving from Buffalo to Rockland County, causing her dad to come up to Cortland County and help her out.

Common sense practices to beat heat

Common sense is the best defense. Some easy tips to remember for heat safety are:

  • Spend some time in air conditioning, if possible. Even just two hours a day in air conditioning can significantly reduce the risk of heat-related illness. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.
  • Drink plenty of water and natural juices, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy.
  • Avoid going out in the blazing heat, if you can.
  • Use sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat If you must be out in the sun.
  • Keep shades drawn and blinds closed, but windows open slightly.
  • Keep lights down low or turned off.
  • Take cool baths or showers periodically, use cool wet towels.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
  • Avoid using the oven.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages and beverages with caffeine such as coffee, tea and cola. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat’s effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which dehydrates the body.
  • Do not leave children or pets in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140 to 190 degrees within 30 minutes on a hot day.
  • Make sure pets have plenty of shade and water to drink.

Source: Cortland County Health Department

Not too far from them, kids who were part of the YWCA’s summer camp were staying active in the shade, doing a group workout of burpees, reverse burpees and other exercises before playing a game called Ships and Sailors, which had the kids running, laying down and pretending to be octopuses.

“We brought water bottles and we have spray bottles,’ said Emilie Sherwood, a lead counselor for the camp.

In Polkville, John Diescher was battling the heat one of the only ways he likes to — getting a chocolate milkshake from The Little Treat Shoppe on Route 11. Diescher, a farmer, said he’s been drinking plenty of water and sitting in the air-conditioned tractor (well, whenever the air conditioning actually works).

S.N. Briere/ staff reporter

The Little Treat Shoppe worker Michaela Eichorst hands John Diescher a chocolate milkshake. Diescher stopped at the Polkville ice cream place for the milkshake to help him cool off in the summer heat and to grab a hot dog for lunch.

People have to take several precautionary steps during periods of high heat to ensure they don’t suffer a heat-related illness, said LouAnne Giangreco, the system chief medical officer for Cayuga Medical Center.

“There are two types of heat illness that affect two different types of patients: exertional heat illness and non-exertional heat illness,” she said. “Heat-related illnesses can range from heat cramps to heat exhaustion to heatstroke.”

Exertional heat illness can affect young and healthy individuals who participate in extraneous or heavy exercise periods during high heat or humidity. People who often suffer from this illness do so because they aren’t acclimated to exercising in the heat, have lower physical fitness, are obese, use alcohol, use certain medications or are dehydrated, Giangreco said. However, this can be prevented by staying hydrated, taking frequent breaks or exercising earlier in the day when it’s cooler.

Those under 4 years old or over 70 years old are most susceptible to non-exertional illness. Also, people with underlying medical conditions are more at risk. Giangreco said folks in these groups should try to stay in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible, drink more water than usual and making sure someone checks in on them daily.

She also said people should know the difference between heat cramps, heat exhaustion and the most serious condition — heat stroke.

Overall everyone should be precautionary when it comes to high temperatures, particularly with the coronavirus pandemic still going on, said Lisa Perfetti, the interim director of the Cortland County Health Department.

“Staying safe in the heat remains important and our messaging related to this is pretty consistent — people can still go to parks and shaded areas, but will need to be mindful of their distance from others and should wear masks,” she said. “Drink plenty of water throughout the day. We encourage people to check on their friends and neighbors, especially the elderly.