Cooling Shelter Ready

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, July 21, 2011

FARMVILLE – Prince Edward County, in coordination with the Town of Farmville, is ready to open a temporary cooling center, if requested by residents of the county or the town.

County Administrator Wade Bartlett explained Wednesday afternoon that “the National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for this area of Virginia from Thursday morning through Saturday evening.

“In response,” Bartlett announced, “the County is prepared to open the SCOPE Building, located at 505 Griffin Boulevard, beginning Thursday, July 21 through Saturday, July 23, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. each day.

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“If we even get one call for cooling assistance,” Bartlett said, “we will open the cooling center immediately.”

Residents who need immediate medical assistance due to the heat should call 911, the County advised.

Residents who need a place to get cool are asked to call the non-emergency number of the Farmville Emergency Communications Center at 392-3332 or the non-emergency number of the Prince Edward County Sheriff's Office at 392-8101.

“Both will know if the cooling center is open or will activate its opening,” the County declared in a statement sent to The Herald.

Residents can cool down, watch TV and get cold water at the SCOPE cooling center. Those planning to stay a good part of the day are encouraged to bring snacks, as meals will not be provided. A limited number of cots will also be available, so feel free to bring a pillow, blanket or sleeping bag, the County advised.

The following general guidelines for safety during extreme heat, adapted from the EPA Heat Guidebook, were also cited by the County:

Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations, such as libraries, stores and other buildings.

Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air.

Take a cool bath or shower.

Minimize direct exposure to the sun.

Stay hydrated. Regularly drink water and other non-alcoholic fluids.

Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods, such as fruits or salads.

Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes.

Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat.

Know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.

Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when the room temperature is hotter than 90 degrees.

Do not leave children and pets along in cars for any amount of time.

Do not drink alcohol to try to stay cool.

For additional information, residents may also contact the Prince Edward County Administrator's Office at (434)-392-8837.

Piedmont Health District Health Director, Dr. Alex Samuel, MD, MPH, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, citing heat indexes of 110 for the next few days, said, “During times of excessive heat, people need to pay attention and take additional precautions. According to our statistics, almost 31 percent of the hyperthermia cases, which were related to extreme heat, involved individuals who were engaging in outside activity such as gardening,” added Dr Samuel. “Twenty-six percent of the hyperthermia cases were individuals who were inside without air conditioning.” One of the most important precautions people should take, the health district pointed out, is to schedule or reschedule activities and outdoor work during the coolest parts of the day. In the summer, sunlight exposure is greatest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m, the health district stated.