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Posted on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

Washtenaw County opens cooling centers to help residents fight Thursday's heat

By Paula Gardner

Previous story: Ann Arbor area braces for Thursday's extreme heat

Washtenaw County officials will operate two cooling centers from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday as the extreme heat peaks in the region.

Both locations will offer air conditioned space and water for persons uncomfortable in the heat who feel they may be at risk as temperatures head toward 100 degrees.

The locations are:

  • Washtenaw County Human Services, 555 Towner, Ypsilanti, Main floor (Room 107)
  • Washtenaw County Office Building, 200 North Main, Ann Arbor, Lower level conference room

Free transportation will be available for the elderly, people with heat-sensitive conditions and persons with disabilities, according to the county.

“Continued exposure to high temperatures can have a cumulative effect our bodies,” says Monique Reeves, MD, MPH, Washtenaw County Public Health’s medical director, in a prepared statement.

“It’s increasingly important to be cautious when it remains hot for multiple days,” she said.

in addition, the county cautions that "older persons, infants, children and persons with underlying health conditions or who take certain medications may be more sensitive to the hot conditions."

Outdoor work or physical activity may increase the risk of illness, officials added. They ask that people call 911 if heat-related illness is suspected.

The health department's press release also offers the following tips for people experiencing heat-related conditions:

Dehydration Dehydration is the first stage of heat-related illness. Dehydration occurs when body fluids are lost, and not replaced, by sweating. Symptoms include dry mouth, thirst, headache, dizziness, cramps, excessive fatigue and irritability. If you are experiencing dehydration, move to a shaded or air-conditioned area, replace fluids by drinking water and consult a physician if symptoms persist or if there is an existing condition that could be complicated by increased fluid intake.

Heat Exhaustion: Typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost by sweating. This fluid loss can cause reduced blood flow to vital organs, which results in shock. Signs of heat exhaustion include headache, moist and pale skin, nausea, dizziness, weakness and exhaustion. To treat exhaustion, seek shade or a cool place. Drink a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes, remove or loosen any tight clothing and apply a cool, wet towel or compress. Heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek immediate medical treatment.

Heat Stroke: Also called sunstroke, it can be deadly. Symptoms include vomiting, decreased alertness or loss of consciousness, high body temperature (sometimes as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit) or red, hot, and dry skin with a rapid, weak pulse. Call 911 for immediate medical help and try to cool the person down. If possible, put them in a tub of cool water or shower them with a garden hose.