Residents find ways to beat the heat

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – After 18 years of carrying out his appointed rounds in all types of weather, Vidalia postal carrier Ricky Brown knows a thing or two about staying cool in the summer heat.

&uot;Each of us probably drink about one-and-a-half to two gallons of water a day,&uot;&160;Brown said. &uot;Just drink plenty of water and carry a sweat rag with you, that’s all I&160;can say.&uot;

Brown noted that this summer’s temperatures – in the low 90s this week – have been more bearable than last summer’s, with more rain and breeze to boot.

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Even so, the Wednesday death of 68-year-old Shreveport woman, apparently due to a stroke brought on by warm temperatures, underscores for many the importance of staying cool.

Take, for example, the Miss-Lou’s poor and elderly residents. They must sometimes choose between paying high cooling bills and paying other expenses, said Dorothy Oliver, executive director of the LaSalle Community Action Agency.

&uot;There’s an extreme need for (energy assistance) in this area, and we never have enough money,&uot; Oliver said. &uot;We just try to do the best we can.&uot;

For proof, she said, just look at the numbers.

The agency’s offices in Concordia, Catahoula and Tensas parishes have just finished taking their first round of applications for federal payment to help needy residents pay cooling bills.

Concordia Parish expects to serve 120 people with $23,095 from the federal government; Catahoula, 96 people with $15,307; and Tensas, about 200 people with $39,889.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness advises residents to take the following steps to avoid heat-related health problems:

— Eat well-balanced, light meals.

— Drink plenty of water regularly.

But persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid- restrictive diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake. Take salt tablets only if specified by your physician.

— Limit intake of alcoholic beverages, which cause further body dehydration.

— Dress in loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature. Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.

— Allow your body to get acclimated to hot temperatures for the first two or three days of a heat wave.

— Avoid too much sunshine. Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

— Avoid extreme temperature changes. A cool shower immediately after coming in from hot temperatures can result in hypothermia, particularly for elderly and very young people.

— Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities. High-risk individuals should stay in cool places. Get plenty of rest.