Contact: Chris Coffman, Public Health Nurse Supervisor - (573) 874-7453, jccoffma@GoColumbiaMo.com
COLUMBIA, MO (June 25, 2007) - As the temperatures reached 90 degrees this weekend, it’s a reminder that each year many Missourians suffer from heat-related illnesses. Last year heat advisories were issued for several parts of Missouri, including Boone County.
Summer heat can take its toll on a person's health, especially the very young, the elderly and the chronically ill, because they are more vulnerable to the effects of high temperatures. These individuals perspire less and are more likely to take medications that can impair the body's response to heat and make them more sensitive. Some of these medications include antipsychotic, major tranquilizers, antihistamines, over-the-counter sleeping pills, antidepressants, and cardiac drugs.
Heat-related illness occurs when the body's temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but when the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Very high body temperatures may damage vital organs and spur heat-related illness, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat strokes.
There are things you can do to prevent heat related illnesses including:
• Dress for the heat and use a hat or umbrella to block the sun.
• Drink water and avoid alcohol beverages and caffeine.
• Eat small meals and eat more often.
• Stay indoors with air-conditioning when possible.
• Take regular breaks when physically active.
The most efficient way to beat the heat is to spend time in an air-conditioned area. Electric fans may be useful to increase comfort or to draw cool air into your home at night, but do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device during a heat wave. Boone County citizens are urged to check on elderly family members or neighbors regularly. It is also important never to leave children unattended in hot environments without air-conditioning, including unsupervised vehicles, and to watch for signs and symptoms of dehydration.
The Columbia/Boone County Health Department is offering residents who do not have access to air-conditioning to visit one of the cooling centers located in Columbia as a place to have access to air-conditioning and drinking water. The cooling centers are accessible by the Columbia Transit System and are available for use only during the time periods in which a heat advisory has been issued for the area. The following locations are open to the public during their regular business hours and should not be used if you are in need of medical treatment.
Columbia Cooling Centers
ARC, 1707 W. Ash St., Red Bus Line
Armory Sports and Community Center, 701 E. Ash, Blue Bus Line
Columbia Public Library, 100 W. Broadway, Red Bus Line
Columbia Mall, 2300 Bernadette Dr., Green and Blue Bus Lines
Columbia/Boone County Health Dept., 1005 W. Worley, Green Bus Line
Columbia Parks and Recreation Office, 601 Business Loop 70, Blue Bus Line
Oakland Senior Center, 1301 Vandiver Dr. Ste. Q, Orange Bus Line
Paquin Towers, 1201 Paquin Street, Red Bus Line
Additionally, the Health Department offers two utility assistance programs for qualified Boone County Residents. H.E.L.P. (Heat Energy and Light Program) provides one-time emergency assistance to low income families with young children in the home. C.A.S.H. (Citizens Assisting Seniors and Handicapped) also provides emergency assistance to low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
For more information on cooling centers or our utility assistance programs, please visit the city of Columbia Web site at www.GoColumbiaMo.com.