Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – As the hurricane season in the Atlantic begins and summer approaches, the Wolf administration today urged Pennsylvanians to put in place a contingency plan and be aware of the dangerous impacts that the extreme heat may have on themselves and their neighbors, especially the elderly and other vulnerable populations.
It is more important than ever to be prepared for dangerous weather conditions. Increasing intensity of storms, precipitation and record heat events have impacted Pennsylvania in recent decades, with this upward trend set to continue according to climate reports departments of protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources.
“It is essential that everyone take the appropriate steps to prepare for the start of the 2021 hurricane season,” said Randy Padfield, director of PEMA. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting another above-average hurricane season. Any action to protect yourself from immediate threats to life should be a priority, such as evacuating before a hurricane or tropical storm. ”
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), tropical storms are storms with winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour that can bring heavy rain, lightning and significant flooding. Hurricanes are storms with winds equal to or greater than 74 miles per hour. Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage from heavy rains, severe flooding, lightning strikes, high winds, storm surges and tornadoes.
No matter where someone lives in Pennsylvania, it’s important to be prepared for the effects of a tropical storm. Everyone should have a contingency plan, including what they would do if they had to evacuate their home due to an impending storm or severe flooding. Flooding from heavy rains is the most common current hazard in Pennsylvania. Residents should therefore consider purchasing flood insurance regardless of their relationship to federally identified floodplains, as most homeowner and tenant insurance policies do not cover this danger. Federal flood insurance policies take 30 days to take effect, so it’s important to act now.
Padfield said PEMA works regularly with state and county partners to ensure they are prepared for any emergency, including the effects of tropical storm systems.
Families should ensure that their home emergency kits are fully stocked with essentials, as power can take days to recover after a tropical storm or hurricane. A home emergency kit should contain:
· Non-perishable food;
· Bottled water (one gallon per person per day. A family of 4 needs a minimum of 12 gallons);
· Flashlight with spare batteries;
· First aid kit;
· warm clothing; and
· All specialty items such as baby supplies or pet food.
In addition to traditional emergency kit items as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, include an additional clean face mask for each person in the household, especially if you are not vaccinated. Research shows that wearing a mask reduces the risk of infection with COVID-19, while not wearing a mask dramatically increases a person’s chances of being infected with this contagious and deadly virus.
“In addition to preparing for the hurricane season, we are also starting to see ever warmer weather, which means we also need to practice thermal safety,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “The combination of heat and humidity can be fatal for people and pets who are unable to keep cool. Exposure to high temperatures for long periods of time can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke. We ask all Pennsylvanians to be a good neighbor and watch out for those with limited mobility or who may have no way of escaping the heat. ”
As hot days get hotter and more frequent and the duration of heat waves lengthens, we need to ensure that populations at risk are resistant to the impacts of high heat. Several groups of people are at risk of developing heat-related health problems during high temperatures. These groups include infants and young children, people 65 years of age and older, people with chronic illnesses and those who have to work outside the home. It is important to ensure that these groups are supervised in hot weather.
It is also important to know the difference between heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat stroke include a high body temperature (over 103 ° F); red, hot and dry skin, but no sweating; a rapid and strong pulse; throbbing headaches; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness.
If you suspect someone has heat stroke, it is important to call 9-1-1 first. After calling for help, take the person to a shaded area and cool them quickly by putting them in a cold water bath or spraying them with a garden hose. You must not give the victim anything to drink, including water.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include profuse sweating, pallor, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, fainting, and nausea or vomiting. Help the person calm down and see a doctor if symptoms are severe, symptoms last for more than an hour, or if the victim has heart problems or high blood pressure. Extremely hot weather can make you sick, and extreme heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States each year.
Remember to wear:
· Lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing;
· A hat or visor;
· Sun glasses; and SPF 30 or higher sunscreen with broad spectrum coverage (reapply if necessary).
To stay hydrated:
· Drink plenty of water throughout the day – don’t wait until you are thirsty.
· Outdoor workers should drink two to four cups of water every hour.
· Avoid consuming caffeinated, alcoholic or sugary drinks.
· Replace salt lost through sweating by drinking fruit juices or sports drinks.
To exercise safely:
· Limit outdoor exercise and stay indoors in the air conditioning in hot weather.
· Exercise early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the hottest hours of the day (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.).
· Be at your own pace when you walk, run, or otherwise exercise your body.
To protect others:
· Never leave children or the elderly in a vehicle.
Check people who may be at higher risk of developing health problems from extreme temperatures such as:
o Infants and young children
o People aged 65 and over
o People with chronic illnesses
To protect animals:
· Never leave animals in a vehicle.
· Provide sufficient shade and water outdoors.
· Keep their bare legs away from the asphalt.
· Limit exercise in hot weather.
· Watch for signs of heatstroke.
For more information on how to manage the heat and stay safe during a tropical storm or hurricane, visit the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the ReadyPA portal contains detailed information and tips for dealing with a variety of natural and man-made disasters that Pennsylvanians may face; visit online at www.ready.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Barry Ciccocioppo, Health, [email protected]
Ruth Miller, PEMA, [email protected]
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