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Take precautions in summer heat

With temperatures rising into the 90s in Northwest Alabama, the time has come for people – particularly vulnerable populations, such as the elderly – to take necessary safety precautions.

Extremely hot weather can cause serious health issues such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke – which can lead to hospitalization and even death. Heat and the effects of dehydration are especially dangerous for the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions. Medications and sensory issues can cause a delay in responding to the side effects of extreme heat and can worsen existing chronic medical conditions.

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency Director Jody Hitt urged people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

“It can sneak up on you really quick. You might be fine one minute, and then five or ten minutes later, you’re exhausted, your skin is flushed and you’re having chest pains,” Hitt said.

Hitt said high temperatures in this area will continue through September and possibly even into early October. He encouraged people to keep a watch out for heat warnings and other heat-related notifications from the National Weather Service and make sure to check on elderly friends and neighbors, particularly those without air conditioners. Franklin County has already had several 9-1-1 calls for heat-related illnesses, in recent weeks.”

“It’s just real hot up here,” Hitt said. “It will be like this for a while.” Hitt said the NWS reported that temperatures might cool slightly next week “but then the heat is going to turn right back up after that.”

Parents should be sure to keep children cool and hydrated, Hitt said, and also take care that pets have shade and water available.

A good idea, Hitt said, is to limit outdoor activities to early morning or later in the evening. The hottest hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m.

People who are concerned about neighbors without air conditioning may place a call to the EMA, 256-332-8890, or the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, 256-332-8820, and someone can check in on them and their situation.

The Centers for Disease Control urges elder individuals and those with chronic health problems to prevent heat-related illness or death by following these practices during extreme heat:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible and avoid direct sunlight.
  • Do not rely on a fan as a primary cooling device during an extreme heat event.
  • Do not use the stove or oven to cook – it will make people and the house hotter.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Drink plenty of water and don’t wait until thirsty to drink.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates regularly.

Protect elderly people and those with disabilities by making them aware of these tips. Check on neighbors and friends regularly. Seek medical care immediately for symptoms of heat illness like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting.

For more information about extreme heat, visit or call the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 1-800-243-5463.