Originally created 07/11/01

Emergency workers urge precautions



Today is expected to be the hottest day in a week of 90-degree weather - so hot that emergency officials are cautioning people to stay inside, drink water and avoid too much outdoor activity.

"This is the time of year people just need to take precautions," said Pam Tucker, Columbia County emergency services director.

Those include avoiding outdoor activities, drinking nonalcoholic and caffeine-free beverages, and wearing cool clothing, Mrs. Tucker said.

At least one man was affected by the high temperatures Tuesday. He was diagnosed with heat illness at University Hospital after working in his yard, said Rebecca Sylvester, hospital spokeswoman. The man, in his early 20s, came in with abdominal cramps, sweating and nausea and was treated with fluids.

Children, the elderly and people on some medications are the most likely to be affected by the heat and should stay in an air-conditioned place, Mrs. Tucker said.

And when that all-important summer appliance breaks down, business picks up at air-conditioner repair shops.

"More people are calling this week," said Greg Connell, of A. Connell's Appliance Heating & Air Inc. "Some of them are quite anxious, and some of them get kind of mean when they get hot."

Ceiling fans also are more popular this time of year, said Robert Pentecost, sales manager at Augusta Lighting and Design Center.

About 20 percent more people have been buying fans, and most are supplementing their air-conditioning systems with the appliances because they are concerned about wasting energy.

Today's temperatures are expected to reach 97 degrees, but relief is expected Thursday when a cold front moves into the area, said Al Moore, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Reach Teresa Wood at (706) 823-3765.

Staying cool

Heat related illnesses can range from sunburn to heat stroke, and symptoms include fever, headaches, sweating, fainting, vomiting and a rapid pulse.

Richmond and Columbia counties have cooling centers open during the day for anyone who wants to get out of the heat, especially children, senior citizens and those without air conditioning. For more information about the cooling centers, call 821-1155 in Richmond County and 556-0308 in Columbia County. Transportation is available.

Tips: Avoid long periods outside, drink lots of water, wear cool and breathable clothing