Montgomery County

Montgomery County facilities to offer places to beat the heat

As temperatures rise this week, several Montgomery County organizations have volunteered their air c

As temperatures rise this week, several Montgomery County organizations have volunteered their air conditioning to the sweating masses.

The National Weather Service in Albany has issued a heat advisory to run from noon to 8 p.m. today. Temperatures are expected to reach between 94 and 98 degrees, which is the prime range for heat-related illnesses.

“The young, from zero to four, and the elderly are at high risk of heat exhaustion and stroke,” said Patricia Streeter, a nurse and infection control specialist at St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam, “especially if they live in an apartment without air conditioning.”

For those without air conditioning, the Horace J. Inman Senior Center on Guy Park Avenue in Amsterdam, the Canajoharie Library and the St. Johnsville Community Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Thursday. The Fort Plain Senior Center on Canal Street will be open from noon to 5 p.m. All locations are air conditioned and will offer water.

“In this kind of heat,” said Cindy Christman, county supervising public health nurse, “you need to take care of yourself.”

The simplest way to stay well in the heat is to drink water and find a cool spot to lay low. The cooling stations offer both of those things. The problem is, the groups at the highest physical risk, the young and old, will likely have the greatest difficulty actually getting to the stations.

“These stations are a great idea,” Streeter said, “but for those who can’t get out, lay low, close the blinds and get a fan.”

Every summer, local emergency rooms are filled with heat victims. Streeter couldn’t give exact numbers, but said the St. Mary’s emergency room is gearing up for a busy season.

While sweating can be unpleasant, according to Streeter, it’s the key to staying cool and out of the emergency room. The body is designed to be cooled by evaporating sweat. The problem arises when the air is too humid for sweat to evaporate, or the body is too dehydrated to produce sweat.

“Body temperature can escalate very quickly,” Streeter said.

General signs of heat exhaustion are pallid skin, nausea, muscle cramps and fatigue, but the sweating mechanism still works.

For those who feel such symptoms, Streeter says, “stop what you’re doing and sit in a cool place. Drink something clear, like water. Just lay low.”

The more serious problem comes when the body stops sweating, which can lead to heat stroke.

“If someone is suffering from heat stroke, get them to the shade or into air conditioning,” she said. “Put them is a cold bath or spray them with a garden hose. Do those things while you’re waiting for the ambulance.”

For more information on heat safety, or the cooling stations, call 853-3531.

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