Our Opinion: Take care of yourself, and others, when temps soar

Though the day-time temperatures have dropped considerably since Monday and Tuesday, it would behoove us, with more hot days on the way, to remember that intense heat can kill. We were reminded of this fact on Tuesday when the Brattleboro Police Department released the shocking news that two elderly Brattleboro residents had succumbed to the heat while outside of their homes on Monday.

In separate incidents, the local police department was dispatched to homes in town, where they found an 87-year-old woman and an 87-year-old man dead from apparent heat exposure. Anyone who went outside on Monday and Tuesday knows the sun was brutal, as was the humidity and the temperature, which was in the mid-90s. Even the healthiest among us felt beat down by the heat.

With summer just beginning, we have many more days of 90-degree, and maybe hotter, weather on the way.

The best thing to do when it gets that hot is to stay out of the sun! But if you have to be out and about, wear a hat, move slowly and drink lots of water. Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day and use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, taking frequent breaks. Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun's rays. The best thing to do is postpone outdoor games and activities and stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.

However, vulnerable members of the community, especially the ill, the young and the old, should restrict their activities altogether. Friends, neighbors and family members are urged to regularly check in with their loved ones to insure they are safe and comfortable or to offer assistance if they need something from the market or other places in town. If you are concerned about a loved one or neighbor, you can always take them to someplace cool, such as Brooks Memorial Library and the Senior Center at the Gibson Aiken Center on Main Street. If you're not sure where to go in your town when the hot weather strikes, you can always contact your town clerk's office for information.

And need we remind everyone to never leave pets or children in cars on intensely hot days, even with the windows rolled down?

"In terms of heat-rise over time, it makes very little difference whether a car's windows are closed or partially open. In both cases, a car's interior temperature can rise approximately 40 degrees within one hour, even when the exterior temperature is only 72 degrees," warns the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Children have died in cars with the temperature as low as 63 degrees," noted Jan Null, an adjunct professor at San Francisco State University. "Basically the car becomes a greenhouse. At 70 degrees on a sunny day, after a half hour, the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. After an hour, it can reach 113 degrees."

"Dogs and cats can't sweat like humans, so they pant to lower their body temperature," said Michael Dix DVM, Medical Director of Best Friends Animal Society. "If they're inside a car, recycling very hot air, panting gives no relief, and heat stroke can happen quickly."

It's up to all of us to take care of ourselves, our friends, our neighbors, our children and the elderly in our community. Whether it's to make sure a child has a healthy meal or a senior has companionship, whether a walkway is shoveled out or a friend needs a ride to the grocery store, we should all chip in to make this wonderful community an even better place to live.

The deaths of the two senior citizens on Monday is a stark reminder that what might seem like a nuisance to most of us, can be fatal to others. Let's keep that in mind every day.


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