By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BROOKLYN — Brooklyn’s going to broil on Wednesday, the first official day of summer, according to the National Weather Service. The agency warns that a blast of heat in the mid-to-high 90s combined with high humidity will blow heat indexes over 100 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday as well.
The agency issued a “Hazardous Weather Outlook” earlier this week, which will likely be upped to a heat advisory.
The New York City Office of Emergency Management will open air-conditioned cooling centers Wednesday and Thursday. Cooling centers are located in senior centers, community centers, and public libraries. To find the cooling center closest to you, call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov after 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Don’t expect to hit the city’s pools, however; they don’t open until June 28. The time-honored New York City method of cooling off — frolicking in fire hydrants — is, however, an option, as long as you use a FDNY-approved fire hydrant spray cap, which can be picked up at any local firehouse.
The biggest worry – especially for the elderly, kids and people taking certain medicines — is heat stroke. Normally, the body cools itself by increasing blood flow to the skin, causing sweating. But when the body cannot cool itself, its core temperature rises, causing heat stroke. This condition can lead to severe permanent damage to vital organs.
Dr. Michael Lucchesi, Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Downstate Long Island College Hospital, says the Emergency Department (ED) is always ready when extreme temps hit the city, but suggests these practical tips:
Spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned public libraries, malls or senior centers.
Drink plenty of fluids, but beware of sugary, carbonated drinks, which actually increase thirst; and fruit juices, which can interfere with medication. Caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration — drink only in very moderate amounts.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. It may be too late.
Dress for the season. Clothing should be lightweight and loose.
Bathe in a cool shower or bath.
Check on your friends frequently and ask them to check on you.
Dry, hot skin, confusion and hallucinations are all serious signs of heat stroke, for which you should summon medical attention immediately.
“Every summer I see children and adults in the Emergency Department with heat related complications which could have been avoided,” says Dr. Lucchesi. “These common sense measures will help you and the people you love.”
Finally, conserve electricity. If you’re experiencing power difficulties, call 1-800-75-CONED.