07/19/06 — Trying to stay cool as mercury rises

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Trying to stay cool as mercury rises

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 19, 2006 1:50 PM

The recent rise in temperature has many Wayne and Goldsboro residents looking for relief.

This week, as some local thermometers read nearly 100 degrees, city, county and local emergency officials had their minds on keeping the community and its workforce safe.

This morning's special weather statement from the National Weather Service urged residents of central and eastern North Carolina to be cautious, as temperatures were expected to approach the mid-90s for a second day in a row. The heat index, or how hot it will feel, was expected to eclipse the 100-degree mark, the statement added.

The organization also warned that should this level of heat and humidity continue, it might take its toll on residents who spend extended periods of time outdoors. They suggested that those who engage in strenuous activity or spend a long time outside today remember to drink plenty of water to avoid heat-related illness included stroke and exhaustion.

Despite the hot days earlier this week and projections for more of the same for the next few days, business has been close to normal at Wayne Memorial Hospital, officials said.

Jeff Brogneaux, clinical educator at the hospital, said it is not unusual for the Emergency Department to handle heat-related cases during the summer months. Still, the climbing temperatures this week have not resulted in an unusual surge of patients coming in to be treated, he added.

"We've had one or two cases, but nothing out of the ordinary," Brogneaux said Tuesday afternoon.

City officials said they have policies in place to help ensure their workers don't add to the currently low number of patients at Wayne Memorial with heat-related illnesses.

General Services director Joe Sawyer said his crews are told to take it easy during particularly hot days. They are given the option to take breaks when needed and have ready access to cold fluids via coolers on each crew's truck.

"(The coolers) are filled with a thirst quencher that puts electrolytes back into the system," he said. "It's sort of like a Gatorade drink. We also have water on there, too."

City employees are also encouraged to take breaks as needed, Sawyer said -- in shady spots when possible.

"We leave it up to them," he said. "They can take them as needed. What we don't want them to do is work themselves up to a state of exhaustion."

News-Argus staff writer Phyllis Moore contributed to this story.