Keeping a watchful eye on others during a heat wave

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        As both a crime prevention officer and a community policing officer for Lake Township Police Department, the two roles are sometimes distinctly different, and sometimes they meld together for the common purpose of assisting our township’s residents.
        While I am continuing to make phone calls to more than 130 township residents – a project that began in March as part of the coronavirus outbreak – my focus has changed a bit. I still ask if the residents have enough groceries and supplies, but now I make certain they are able to stay cool during the extremely hot and humid weather.
        The residents I have talked to tell me they are mostly staying inside, especially during the afternoon and early evening hours. Good idea!
        Senior citizens are more susceptible to heat-related health conditions. I know this first-hand as I was a paramedic for 40 years and dealt with many such emergencies. Breathing disorders, such as asthma, congestive heart failure (CHF), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affect many senior citizens. During times of extremely high temperatures and humidity, these health conditions can flare up.
        Two other health issues that can arise during a heat wave include heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can result in profuse sweating, clammy skin, nausea, muscle cramps and extreme thirst. Heat stroke symptoms include lack of sweating, extremely high body temperature, confusion, and seizures.
        While both conditions can be serious, heat stroke is a true medical emergency and requires the immediate summoning of emergency medical services personnel.
        The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very well placed while speaking of heat maladies. It is much easier to prevent a heat-related health issue than to deal with a medical emergency situation.
        If you are a senior who is responsible for mowing a yard, try to get a youngster to do it. Grandkids should be the first ones to consider for this chore, but hiring a teen is another good option to consider. Younger peoples’ bodies are built to better withstand the heat while performing such work.
        Other outdoor activities, such as gardening chores and watering plants and flowers, are best done early in the morning when it’s coolest. The same goes for walking and other exercise activities.
        Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids such as ice water or drinks designed to balance nutrients and fluids. Avoid alcoholic beverages, putting this off until later in the day when you are staying inside.
        If your air conditioner goes on the fritz, don’t delay calling someone to get it fixed. During heat waves, repair technicians get backed up quickly, so the quicker you call, the quicker someone can get to you. In the meantime, find a place to stay where you can keep cool.
        True friends help each other out during times of trouble, so if you know of someone in a situation in which they cannot keep cool, offer to help by making room for them in your home. You will feel good about it.
        Let’s not forget about our four-legged friends during a heat wave. Let them stay inside, allowing them out for short periods to “do their business,” and keep them furnished with cool water to drink. Not taking proper care of a pet is a crime that can lead to charges being filed.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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