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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: August 12, 2016


DOVER (Aug. 12, 2016) - While temperatures will again climb into the 90s this weekend, heat indexes ('feels-like' temperatures) are predicted to soar to over 100 degrees. With the National Weather Service's Excessive Heat Warning continuing through 9 pm. Sunday for New Castle County, the Division of Public Health (DPH) is urging residents statewide to take precautions and preventive measures in the extreme heat conditions. Hot weather can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and severe respiratory conditions, which can be fatal.

Extreme heat is especially dangerous for seniors, young children, people with disabilities, and people with breathing conditions and other chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Also at risk are people without access to air conditioning, fans, or cooling shelters. On excessively warm days, our bodies have less chance to recover, placing everyone at risk for heat-related illness. Sweat ceases to evaporate and the body's natural cooling system slows down or shuts down completely when temperatures and humidity are extremely high.

In the coming days, Delawareans are encouraged to stay indoors as much as possible. Residents who don't have access to air conditioning, or fans should seek out cooler locations such as libraries or shopping malls. Residents are also asked to check on vulnerable members of their families and neighbors, particularly the elderly and people with disabilities.

Animals are also sensitive to the heat and are at risk for heat-related illnesses. Owners should make sure to provide shade or move animals to shaded pens, provide plenty of cool drinking water, and avoid unnecessary transportation, and walking of pets. Animals at the greatest risk of stress from the heat include pregnant or lactating animals, very young and older animals, animals with darker coats, obese pets, short-nosed dog breeds, and animals with chronic health conditions. In dogs and cats, such signs can include rapid panting, increased heartbeat and body temperature, weakness, increased salivation, restlessness, and muscle spasms, lack of coordination, bright red or pale and sticky gums, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. Delaware 2-1-1 connects Delawareans with critical services and support. Eligible callers can receive referrals to summer cooling and crisis assistance and the City of Wilmington's Free Electric Fan Program for seniors.

Tips to prevent heat illness:

Heed the following heat danger warning signs and take suggested actions:

For more information, visit the CDC at cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.