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Published: Saturday, 7/23/2011

Beat the heat

Picture it. Five months ago, Toledo was buried in the snowiest February on record. A punishing ice storm left tens of thousands of area residents without power for days. The Veterans’ Glass City Skyway was shut down by falling ice. Clean-up crews were struggling to remove downed trees and limbs from city streets.

So, really, should we be complaining about the heat?

Sure it is important for children under age 4, the elderly, and anyone with respiratory ailments or other health problems to be extra careful when temperatures and humidity soar above the 90s and the feels-like index is over 100. That’s going to be true for the next few days, so numerous senior centers throughout the region have opened up as “cooling centers,” providing air-conditioned respites. It’s also important to check on vulnerable friends and relatives, avoid strenuous activity, and drink plenty of fluids.

But that can be fun. The fluids can be in the form of sweet concoctions such as ice balls and Popsicles. You don’t need to expend much energy to run through a spray park or under a hose. And friends and relatives who can’t take the heat might enjoy a trip to an air-conditioned movie.

Extreme heat is not to be taken lightly, of course. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, or fainting. It’s important to cool the victim off and to seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour. Heat stroke, even more dangerous, is characterized by a body temperature above 103 degrees; skin that is red, hot, and dry; a rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; confusion, and even unconsciousness. Call for the medics and cool the victim while waiting for their arrival.

Be careful, enjoy the possibilities of summer — even when the temperature soars — and remember: You don’t have to shovel the driveway. Not for a couple of months, anyway.

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