Montcalm County 4-H Fair taking precautions with animals and 4-H’ers

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 11:52 am on Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kaylee Case, 17, of Greenville, cools down her horse Dillon at the Montcalm County 4-H Fairgrounds in Montcalm Township Wednesday afternoon. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Tips for staying cool in the heat

• Never leave children or animals in a parked vehicle unattended, even with windows cracked open. If it gets sunny and hot, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 120 degrees or more in a matter of minutes. Heat stroke and death can occur in these dangerous situations.

• Elderly people have a much more difficult time dealing with heat. Their bodies may not adjust as quickly to changes in temperature, and some medications can cause adverse reactions to heat. If you know elderly adults, check on them twice a day during these hot days. Encourage them to drink cold, non-alcoholic beverages to stay well-hydrated. If they appear to be suffering from dizziness, muscle weakness/cramping, vomiting, heavy sweating, or paleness, they may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Get them to a cool area, and medical treatment as soon as possible.

• Pets dehydrate fast, so be sure they have fresh, clean drinking water. Keep them indoors or provide a shady place for them to stay out of the sun. Don’t let them overheat: keep strenuous activity and playtime short.

• Drink nonalcoholic fluids often, no matter how active you are. If you wait until you’re thirsty to drink, you may already be dehydrated. Avoid alcohol or sugary drinks, as they can cause you to dehydrate faster.

Source: Kent County Health Department


MONTCALM TOWNSHIP — It’s a hot one out there.

With temperatures forecasted to be in the mid-90s today and Friday, people and animals at the weeklong Montcalm County 4-H Fair are scrambling to stay cool.

Barb Altizer, horse show manager and a member of the horse leaders board, said fair officials have made quite a few changes to adjust to soaring temps.

Youths typically must dress somewhat formally when showing horses. In view of the hot weather, the dress code has been relaxed. Youths will be allowed to discard jackets and long-sleeved shirts in favor of short-sleeved shirts. An “order of go” schedule also is being created so 4-H’ers know exactly what time they are scheduled to show their horse, allowing them to wait in the shade instead of lining up and waiting in the hot sun.

Fair officials are working to keep horses cool by keeping the horse area watered down and setting up hoses and sprinklers for the horses to walk through or bathe in.

“We’re also doing constant reminders to the kids to hydrate themselves and their animals,” said Altizer, a leader with the Barbed Wire and Roses 4-H Club in Greenville.

Tom Gittus, the cavy (Guinea pig) and rabbit superintendent, said he has been in talks with Tractor Supply Co. (TSC) in Greenville for possible donations of several large barn fans at the fair. Water also is being used to keep the floor cool, as well as to discourage dust.

Because the blood in a rabbit’s body circulates through the ears, 4-H’ers have found a unique way to keep the bunnies cool.

“You put cold water on your hands and rub it on their ears,” Gittus said. “They’re all laying low and keeping hydrated.

“We’re pushing fluids for the kids,” added Gittus, a leader with the Mixed Bag of Nuts 4-H Club in Sidney. “We don’t want anyone to get dehydrated.”

Bill Knapp, the head swine superintendent, said he has two 36-inch fans and four 48-inch fans to cool down the cows, sheep and pigs, and he’s working on finding more.

“We’re trying to find as many big fans as we can,” said Knapp, a leader with the Winfield Hustlers 4-H Club. “If we start seeing animals that are stressed, we just start cooling them down with hoses.”

The challenge of battling hot temps doesn’t faze Knapp, the fire chief of the Amble Fire Department.
“You get thrown a new set of circumstances every year,” he said.

Altizer said the buildings at the new fairgrounds, which opened last summer, have been beneficial in fighting hot temps as well. The buildings have high ceilings and good airflow, thanks to walkways through the center of the buildings. The facilities also are positioned east to west for the most ideal shade.

“When we built our facilities, we built them with the idea that we were going to be spending potentially hot weeks at the fair,” Altizer said.

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