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Bredesen on heat, drought: Be practical and patient

Bredesen on heat, drought: Be practical and patient
Messenger. 9.3.07
Athough the extreme heat has subsided in some areas of Tennessee, there remain isolated pockets of record temperatures and dry conditions.
“The heat can still be a serious health issue for some people, especially seniors and young children who are the most vulnerable to these conditions. I urge Tennesseans to take common sense steps to cope with the heat. Please exercise extreme caution during these dry and incredibly hot days,” Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said.
“And, as hot, dry conditions continue in isolated areas, I urge everyone to follow the guidance of their local utilities and water officials, who are working with the state to monitor conditions in all communities.”
Practical approaches
to the heat
• Exercise extreme caution, drink plenty of water and limit outdoor activity.
• Call for help immediately if you experience symptoms caused by high heat.
• Be a good neighbor by checking on family, friends, neighbors and church members, particularly people with disabilities and those who may be homebound, sick or elderly.
• Pace yourself and be patient.
• Parents may need to be flexible to take care of children as there are disruptions in school schedules, and those with elderly relatives may need to check on them more often.
• Stay cool indoors. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the mall or library to cool off. Cool showers or baths, as well as keeping your stove and oven off, are other ways to cool down inside.
Know the signs, symptoms of heat-related illness
Heat stroke is the most life-threatening heat-related illness, occurring when the body is unable to regulate its temperature, which rises quickly without the ability to cool down. If emergency treatment is not provided, heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability. Symptoms include:
• Body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit;
• Red, hot and dry skin without sweating;
• Rapid, strong pulse;
• Throbbing headache;
• Dizziness;
• Nausea;
• Confusion;
• Finally, loss of consciousness.
Other illnesses caused by extreme heat are heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn and heat rash. Symptoms include:
• Dizziness;
• Heavy sweating;
• Muscle cramps;
• Rapid heart beat;
• Nausea;
• Headaches;
• Cold/clammy skin.
Who is at risk
for heat-related illnesses?
Infants and children younger than 4 years of age, people older than 65, people who are overweight, those who overexert themselves during work or exercise and people who are physically ill (especially those who have heart disease or high blood pressure, take certain medication or suffer from insomnia, depression or poor circulation) are especially at risk in extreme heat.
Get help staying cool
Low-income Tennesseans may be eligible for energy assistance. The Tennessee Department of Human Services has made available funds through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), to 19 community services agencies across the state. An individual or family must sign up with their local agency, which determines eligibility for the program. Priority is given to individuals with disabilities, the elderly and low income families with children younger than 6-years old.
“One of the key functions of government is to provide emergency assistance to citizens when needed, and I am proud to say we have lived up to this role,” Bredesen said. “I am particularly proud of the way Tennesseans have responded to this serious situation. The low number of problems over the last weekend is a testament to people exercising caustion outside and looking out for one another. Temperatures are going down, but we still have some issues in front of us. We’ll continue to take care of installing units for those who have been approved and are waiting for units to arrive as they resume normal operations.”
Qualifications for energy assistance include:
• Eligibility for LIHEAP benefits is based on established federal poverty guidelines, and documentation of household income is required.
• Tennesseans whose household income does not exceed 125 percent of federal poverty guidelines (that’s $25,000/year for a family of four) are potentially eligible for the program.
For a list of local LIHEAP agencies where applications for heating assistance can be made, visit: http://state.tn.us/humanserv/adfam/liheap-agencies.pdf.
Conserve water
The state continues to advise that there are still isolated pockets where heat and drought could be a threat to the water supply. Tennesseans are urged to be responsive to the requests of water utilities when it comes to water conservation. Some simple things Tennesseans can do to conserve water include:
• Fix all leaky plumbing fixtures, including outdoor hoses.
• Install sink faucets with aerators, motion sensors or automatic shut-offs.
• Install low-flow shower heads.
Burn safety
The Labor Day Weekend means grilling and outdoor family gatherings. Remember that careless debris burning is a major cause of woodland fires in places that continue to be dry.
Burn permits are now required statewide as drought continues.
Avoid burning on dry, windy days and burn late in the day after the wind has quieted and humidity begins to increase, usually after 5 p.m.
Check to see if weather changes are expected. Outdoor burning should be postponed if shifts in wind direction, higher winds or wind gusts are forecast.
Stay with all outdoor fires until they are completely out.
Keep water and hand tools ready in case your fire should attempt to spread.
Help for farmers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted Gov. Bredesen’s request for federal farm assistance for all 95 Tennessee counties due to drought.
Qualified farm operators in designated areas are eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Farmers with production losses should contact their local USDA Service Center for more information on emergency assistance and for more information on haying and grazing opportunities on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands.

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