Tips for keeping cool during record heat wave

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 12:57 pm on Friday, July 06, 2012

Summer temperatures in Michigan have been soaring off the chart.

People need to think about themselves, loved ones and pets when it comes to staying cool.

According to WZZM TV 13’s weather forecast, today could set a record-breaking high as one of the hottest days yet in the ongoing heat wave with temperatures reaching as high as 110 degrees.

Ali Kohn, 4, of Greenville, takes an ice cream cone handed to her at Dairy Queen during the heat wave on Thursday, when temperatures reached 100 degrees.

Although an early Thursday morning rain may have helped some, windy storm damage left more than 9,000 residents in Montcalm County without power, making it more difficult for them to stay cool during the heat wave.

Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd said power was not expected to be restored until today or Saturday.

The American Red Cross has opened cooling centers in Greenville to help those who need to cool down, whether they lost power or do not have air at their homes.

“The heat has been a concern,” said Chip Kragt for emergency services at the American Red Cross.

Greenville Community Church, 6596 Vining Road, and First Congregational Church, 126 E. Cass St., opened from noon until 6 p.m., Thursday, through the American Red Cross. Kragt said those centers were open in Greenville because they were the closes places available to those who lost power during the storm.

The cooling centers will be open from noon until 6 p.m. today and Saturday if the need still exists.

Greenville Public Schools (GPS) also opened its community room to those who needed a place to cool down from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday. The community room will be open again today during those hours.

GPS Superintendent Pete Haines said the school has opened buildings in the past for cooling centers, but few people took advantage. By Thursday afternoon, only one person had come inside to cool down.

“Our building was generously provided by this community,” Haines said. “It’s nice to be able to pitch in (and give back) when needed.”
He noted Spectrum Health United Hospital in Greenville donated boxes of frozen popsicles for people who came in to cool down.

It is very important to push fluids, mainly water, while a person is dealing with heat, according to Kragt. But there are things a person can eat that will help them stay hydrated, as well. Eating fruits and vegetables is a good idea, as is avoiding heavy, starch-filled foods.

“Eating smaller amounts of food more often,” Kragt said, is a key to staying cooler.

A residence on S. Shore Drive on Crystal Lake in Crystal Township suffered damage to a rooftop chimney after severe storms rolled throughout parts of Montcalm and Ionia counties early Thursday morning, leaving thousands of people without electricity.

The American Red Cross sent out a press release Thursday, highlighting ways for people to prepare for the heat.

Among the preparations, people should discuss heat safety precautions with family members, check the contents of an emergency preparedness kit in case of a power outage, know neighbors and check on those that may be victims such as elderly, children and overweight people, get trained in first aid and go to areas that will provide relief if a person does not have air conditioning.

Compassion Ministries Director Kim Cain said they support and believe in what the American Red Cross does, so they were more than willing to help out when the church was requested as a cooling center.

Cain said the Red Cross provided water, snacks and more for people who came in. As of Thursday afternoon, three families had come into the cooling center.

While it is important for a person to look out for themselves and neighbors, they should also keep in mind their pets.

“Animals can get heat strokes just like people do,” said Angela Sova, a Montcalm County Animal Shelter officer in Stanton.
Signs of animals having a heat stroke are similar to ones of a human – vomiting, heavy panting and acting sick.

The most important thing for animals is to make sure they always have a bowl of water to drink out of no matter what to keep them cool, Sova said.

If an animal is an indoor/outdoor animal, they should be kept indoors during the heat wave as long as the owner has air conditioning. If the animal has to stay outside, make sure they are kept in the shade.

“If there is a doghouse, make sure it is moved to the shade,” Sova said.

Animals can also get sunburned while being out in the heat, especially those with shorter hair. Sova said sunblock lotions are available for animals, if needed.

“Do not leave animals in cars, not even in the shade,” Sova noted.

For more information on how to stay cool, visit online.

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