HAMPTON, NH, – With soaring temperatures in the forecast this weekend throughout New England, being outdoors can be uncomfortable, and at times, life-threatening. As part of an ongoing partnership, Unitil, a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers throughout New England, and the American Red Cross (ARC) are encouraging residents to take precautions during this weekend’s forecasted heat wave and throughout the rest of the summer to keep their families and properties safe.
“We encourage all of our customers to take any necessary precautions as temperatures reach their expected highs this weekend,” said Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara. “Know the signs for heat exhaustion and follow these helpful tips from our friends at the Red Cross to ensure you are prepared and ready.”
Keep the following summer safety tips in mind, especially during the hottest days of the season:
- Be aware of water safety precautions. Warmer weather means it’s time to enjoy the water. It’s important for everyone to be ‘water smart,’ which means having swimming skills and knowing how to help others in a water emergency. Make sure you prevent unsupervised access to water including home pools, spas and bathtubs, and always designate a water watcher whose sole responsibility is to watch people in and around the water until the next water watcher takes over.
- Keep grill safety in mind. A recent Red Cross survey showed three in five adults have walked away from a grill while cooking, one of the leading causes of grilling fires which cause more than 9,000 home fires on average each year. To avoid this, always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays. Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat and take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
- Check on the health of furry friends and loved ones. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat. Check on your animals frequently to ensure they are not suffering from the heat. Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion typically involves the loss of bodily fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness and exhaustion. Some of the indications that your pet may be experiencing heat stroke include heavy panting and the inability to calm down, even when lying down; brick red gum color; fast pulse; and the inability to get up.
- Discuss heat safety with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for the possibility of power outages. Check the contents of your emergency preparedness kit in case a power outage occurs. Choose places you could go, such as shelters, schools, libraries, theaters or malls, for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day.
- Be aware of “peak load” days. During the hottest days of the summertime, air conditioners are working overtime which causes electric usage for the region to reach its highest point. On these “peak load” days, it is important to be mindful of your energy usage, as it is likely higher than normal. To help reduce your energy consumption this summer, tune your cooling system frequently to enhance performance and improve efficiency. Use the fan setting on your window AC at night when the outside air is cool and ensure that all windows are closed when the AC is on.
- Be prepared for a potential fast-moving, yet severe thunderstorm. Heat and humidity also create the ideal conditions for a fast-moving severe thunderstorm. Such storms can be accompanied by a high volume of lightning strikes and damaging winds, both of which can cause outages. Secure loose items that are susceptible to movement including lawn furniture and bicycles. Ensure that you have flashlights and fresh batteries, a first aid kit, a portable phone charger, bottled water and non-perishable food on hand. Listen to a NOAA weather radio, local news broadcasts or the TV weather channel for critical information from the National Weather Service. If you see downed wires in the wake of a storm, DO NOT APPROACH and contact your local utility or call 911. Always assume downed wires are still live.
“The Red Cross provides several resources to utilize throughout the summer aimed to educate the public on how to treat common ailments like bee stings and sunburns,” Maria Devlin, Regional Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross in New Hampshire and Vermont said “We also offer heat emergency training courses (redcross.org/takeaclass),a free First Aid App and a First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.”