As a sizzling heatwave prepares to smother the region with temperatures soaring, officials issued stark warnings and safety guidelines to protect residents and their animals.
The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for Thursday and an excessive heat warning for Friday for the region.
As the mercury is expected to surge to the upper 90s and feel like the low 100s, state officials have cautioned residents about the potentially deadly effects of extreme heat.
The National Weather Service has identified heat as the leading weather-related cause of death in the U.S., and this impending heatwave poses severe risks for vulnerable populations, according to Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield.
“Especially at risk are children and older adults, those working outdoors, and urban dwellers where heat can intensify due to asphalt and concrete and reduced nighttime cooling,” Padfield said.
He issued a reminder about the dangers of leaving individuals or pets inside vehicles, where temperatures can escalate rapidly, resulting in preventable fatalities.
Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen echoed Padfield’s concern. She urged residents to take precautions, like wearing suitable clothing, staying hydrated, exercising safely, and keeping a close eye on children, older adults, and pets.
Health officials are also advising the public on heat-related illnesses, which can range from mild heat cramps to severe heat stroke. Prevention and early recognition are key to averting these potentially dangerous conditions.
Heat cramps often present as painful muscle spasms during or after vigorous activity in high heat. Advised remedies include moving to a cooler place, loosening clothing, applying cool cloths to the skin, and consuming cool sports drinks. Heat exhaustion can manifest with symptoms like heavy sweating, paleness, dizziness, headache, and nausea. Immediate cooling and medical attention are vital if symptoms are severe or last for more than an hour.
Heat stroke, the most serious heat-related condition, is characterized by a body temperature exceeding 103°F, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, and possible unconsciousness. It is crucial to call 9-1-1, get the person to a shady area, and rapidly cool them down if heat stroke is suspected.
Highlighting the vulnerability of the elderly, Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich urged community members to ensure their older family members, neighbors, and friends have the necessary means to stay cool and hydrated.
Pets and livestock also face severe risk amid high temperatures, warned Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.
Redding offered several tips to safeguard animals, including as providing shade, plenty of clean water, and using fans for effective evaporative cooling. He also recommended avoiding overworking animals and transporting them only in the cooler hours of early morning or late evening.