Sussex County has opened four cooling stations as National Weather Service forecasters predict temperatures the next several days to top 90 degrees, with heat-index values near or exceeding 100 degrees for several days, and possibly maxing out at 115 degrees by Saturday, July 20.
The air-conditioned sites include:
Sussex County Administration Building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Milton library, 121 Union St, Milton, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
South Coastal Library, 43 Kent Ave., Bethany Beach, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Thursday, 1 to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Greenwood library, 100 Mill St., Greenwood, open normal library hours.
Glen Marshall spokesman for emergency services said there are no established cooling stations on Sunday, but residents can find air-conditioned areas at shopping centers or the outlets. He said residents with air conditioning should be aware of neighbors without it and consider inviting them over.
Sussex County paramedics will make routine stops at the locations, as time permits, to answer any heat-related questions or concerns. Free bottled water will be available at the county administration building only.
When visiting a relief station, residents are reminded to bring any medications or specialty items.
Residents and visitors are urged to limit exposure outside, particularly during the hottest part of the day from 1 to 6 p.m. Those who must be outside should take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water.
Here are some hot weather safety tips provided by county officials:
• Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing. Lighter clothing deflects sunlight, and will not absorb heat like dark materials do.
• Stay in properly ventilated areas.
• Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day.
• Have plenty of water available; avoid alcoholic beverages.
• Be aware of the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and seek medical attention if necessary.
• Signs of heat cramps can include muscular pains and spasms from heavy exertion. Resting in a cooler area, taking occasional sips of water and stretching the muscle mildly can counter the effects of heat cramps.
• Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are much more serious and may require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include a pale or flushed appearance, as well as headache and nausea. Heat stroke symptoms include rapidly increased body temperature, loss of consciousness, rapid or weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing.
• Be sure to check on friends, relatives and neighbors, particularly the elderly and young children, who may be at risk for exposure to the heat. Remember to give pets extra water, provide shade or bring them into a residence where temperatures are cooler.
It is also important to keep in mind that due to the higher temperatures and humidity expected in the area, demand for electricity will increase. In an effort to reduce costs and avoid power shortages, the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center asks all residents and business operators in Sussex County to help conserve power to avoid outages.
For more information, call the EOC at 855-7801 or Sussex County EMS at 854-5050.