2012-07-12 / Front Page

Heat Wave Reaches Triple Digits

Temperature breaks Sunday; mid-80s this week
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER


Valerie Evans, right, of Somerset, Pa., watches over her children on the beachfront at Cowans Gap State Park Tuesday. Temps are expected to remain in the mid-80s all week giving some much needed relief to countians and visitors at the park. Valerie Evans, right, of Somerset, Pa., watches over her children on the beachfront at Cowans Gap State Park Tuesday. Temps are expected to remain in the mid-80s all week giving some much needed relief to countians and visitors at the park. As if it couldn’t get any hotter outside, Saturday’s temperatures broke triple digits here in Fulton County, causing local residents to take refuge wherever they could find a bit of shade or an occasional cool breeze.

Seeking relief from the terrible temps and humidity that gripped much of the East Coast last week, Hustontown resident Kathy Baker and her family found exactly what they were looking for Saturday in Hagerstown, Md. The family enjoyed some muchneeded retail therapy and enjoyed the air conditioning at the Regal Valley Mall Cinemas where they watched Disney Pixar’s latest animated release “Brave.”

Like many other proud par-

Dick’s Homecare branch manager Carol Christy of Mc- Connellsburg spent her Saturday in the bleachers at the ballfields. Christy told the “News” her son, Bow, was part of a first-place tournament team that travelled to Williamsburg, Pa. While there, the family resorted to cold washrags around the neck and drinking plenty of water to stay refreshed and properly hydrated.

Fulton County native Amy Strait Gossert sought relief poolside, compliments of her brother and his fiance. Others not as fortunate to have a relative, neighbor or friend with a swimming pool took in the recreational and swimming opportunities at Great Cove Golf and Recreation Club and Cowans Gap State Park.

Known to locals as “The Gap,” the state park featuring a lake, sandy beach and campgrounds remained a popular weekend destination in spite of the sweltering temps. Drawing in even more visitors to the typically crowded beachfront, Gap officials encouraged everyone to “beat the heat by thinking ahead to snow” with their snowshoeing excursion on the beach Saturday from 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. In addition, to help celebrate “National Fathers Take Your Daughter For a Walk Day,” the Gap also offered a “Dads and Daughters Walk” later that evening.

According to Cowans Gap State Park Manager Ryan Donovan, the month of June drew in around 54,000 total visitors. Approximately

15,000 of those individuals gathered on the beachfront to swim and sunbathe.

“There has been an increase in beach use during the heat wave,” said Donovan. “The cool waters of Cowans Gap Lake offer the most relief from the heat in the park. People continue to use the dayuse areas to picnic whether it is utilizing a pavilion or one of the picnic tables. These areas are mostly shaded and offer and escape from the direct sunlight.”

Donovan added that the concession stand offers a bevy of cold beverages and frozen treats to keep visitors cool. “The boat concession also rents paddle boats, kayaks and row boats for visitors who want to be out on the lake,” said the park manager, who noted upcoming events to beat the heat include a kayak scavenger hunt on July 13 at 6 p.m.; “Buggin’ in the Lake” on July 14 at 7:15 p.m.; and Stream Stomp at 11:30 a.m. on July 15. Additional information regarding these activities can be obtained by contacting the park naturalist at 717-485-9018.

In preparation for the weekend and the predicted soaring temps, the state Department of Health began issuing heat alerts Friday, urging residents to “take simple steps to prevent heat-related illness.” Department of Health Secretary Dr. Eli Avila said, “Temperatures may feel over 100 degrees or more in many areas, so taking the proper precautions against heat-related illness will be very important.” Individuals at greatest risk during these extreme temperatures are those over the age of 65, infants and young children and those with heart disease, high blood pressure and breathing problems.

At Fulton County Medical Center in McConnellsburg, Emergency Room Supervisor Michelle Kerlin, RN, reported things have been busy in the ER recently. Unable to provide any statistics or numbers on the number of patients that suffered from heat-related issues, Kerlin did state she’s sure the heat has been the cause of some of the problems observed.

To help further identify what symptoms to look for with heat exhaustion and heat/sun stroke, Kerlin shared that signs of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headaches, muscle cramps and dizziness. Meanwhile, heat stroke is identified or defined as a type of hypothermia during which the body temperature is raised drastically. In addition to a high body temperature, signs include a lack of sweating, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, hallucinations, confusion and agitation.

Heat exhaustion can be treated at home, it was noted, as long as the individual remains properly hydrated. Water and even sports drinks, such as Gatorade, should be consumed. In the event nausea and vomiting prevent rehydration, medical attention should be sought immediately.

The heat wave, which broke Sunday, is being blamed for at least 30 deaths across the nation. Among those were three individuals from Pennsylvania and nine from Maryland. High temperatures for the remainder of the week are predicted to be in the mid-80s, the National Weather Service reports.

Tips to avoid heat-related illness

Even though the heat wave has broken and temperatures are forecasted to remain in the mid- 80s throughout the week, residents are urged to remain cautious and careful by following these tips from the state Department of Health.

 Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible.

 Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty! Avoid caffeine or sugary drinks as well as alcohol.

 Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

 Dress in light-colored, loosefitting clothing. Wear sunglasses, a hat and don’t forget the sunscreen!

 Never leave your children or pets in vehicles.

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