Thursday, June 15, 2017

Vermont Heat Deaths Show Risk Is Not Just A Southern Thing

Two elderly Vermonters died early this week in the Brattleboro area during the brief but intense heat wave we had, and officials tied those deaths to heat exposure.

At two separate houses, an 87 year old woman and an 87 year old man were found outdoors near their houses, according to the Brattleboro Reformer and VTDigger.

While the medical examiner has not announced an official cause of these deaths, the fact that it looks like they're heat related offers us a warning:

We can get in trouble during hot weather even up here in northern New England.

In fact, in some ways, the problem can be worse. Many homes don't  have air conditioning. (Hey, some parts of New York and Vermont were in the 30s last night - in June!)

Still, the overall trend has been for more summer hot spells and especially hotter, muggier nights, and that can take a toll on  us.

Any hot afternoon can be risky if you don't take care of yourself. That's especially true among the elderly and people who have health problems.

Even healthy, young pups need to be careful, though.

Back in September, 2015, Vermont State Trooper Kyle Young, 28, died of heat exhaustion during a training exercise on a very warm, humid day.  And a younger man who was a logger died while working during record heat in July, 2012 in northern Vermont.

And a study has shown that emergency room visits in New England increase exponentially during hot spells.

More hot, humid spells are inevitable this summer. It's only mid-June, after all. In fact, it will be muggy with temperatures flirting with 90 degrees Sunday afternoon.

So remember these tips for the rest of the summer:

Check on the elderly. Often. Make sure they are in a cool place or take them there, like to the mall or a movie. Make sure they're drinking a lot of liquids.

Take care of yourself, too. There's no need to mow the lawn at 3 p.m. in the afternoon in the sun when the temperature is 95 degrees. Keep drinking that water, and maybe even throw in a sports drink or two.

If you or someone you're with is in hot weather and start experiencing things like heat cramps, nausea, confusion, dizziness, get to a cool place now if not sooner and drink non-caffienated liquids. If it starts to progress to heat stroke, (super high temperature, dry skin, fainting, call 911 pronto.

Take care of your pets, too. Dogs cool off by panting, and there's only so much they can do. My house is not air conditioned, so when it gets too hot, our dogs and I retreat to the cool basement and hang out down there. We make a day of it.

Also remember: If you take your kids and pets on a car trip, don't leave then sitting in a parked vehicle in the sun for even a couple minutes while you run your errands. And when you get home or do your destination, please, please always remember to make sure you've retrieved your kids and pets and anyone else from the car.

There have been too many deaths in hot cars across the country already this summer.

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