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Summer is in full swing

By Ed Brock

The lazy, hazy days of summer have officially descended, and that's just fine for Clara Hall of Hampton.

"It's my favorite season," Hall said. "It lets you go on vacation and you spend more time with your children."

For others, the official beginning of summer today is not such good news.

"It's hot. My favorite time of the year is fall," said Kenya Rucker of Atlanta.

Like Rucker, Connie Houston of Jonesboro will be looking for ways to beat the heat.

"Staying indoors, shopping in the malls, and going to water parks," Houston said.

That might be a good idea for most people. The past week of June has seen some unusual highs, said meteorologist Phil Grigsby with the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City, and that is just a taste of things to come.

"Right now the forecast is that it's going to be near or slightly above normal for temperatures and at or below normal for precipitation," Grigsby said.

And with the heat comes the need to take precautions, especially for those who work outside, children and seniors.

"For our seniors they seem to wear a lot more clothes which makes them more susceptible to heat emergencies," said Riverdale Fire Chief Billy Hayes.

Seniors and others should wear light colored, loose fitting clothes that allow more airflow across the body. That's especially important for seniors who often perspire less than when they were younger.

"Sweating is the body's way to release heat," Hayes said.

It's important to have good ventilation inside the home as well, and most important is having a "buddy system" in which someone checks on the welfare of seniors in their neighborhood, Hayes said.

A tip everybody should remember is to drink lots of water when planning to be out in the heat for long, Hayes said, and to avoid sodas and alcohol. Sodas contain sugar and syrups that, like alcohol, dehydrate the body.

"While a soda might be cold and feels like it's relieving your thirst it may actually be making you thirstier," Hayes said.

Amy Nix with the Clayton County Fire Department had a further tip on that score.

"What we always encourage people to do if they know they're going to be out and active the next day is to start hydrating themselves the night before," Nix said.

There are three levels of problems from heat, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

For the lesser problems, heat cramps or heat exhaustion, Nix recommended getting the person inside an air conditioned building, taking off their shoes, socks and hats and putting cool clothes on the neck, top of the head and under the arms. If the person isn't already nauseous they should be given water before giving them sports drinks that might actually make them vomit, thus dehydrating them further.

If the person is experiencing an altered mental status, is unresponsive or unable to walk, gray in color or is having seizures, that is a medical emergency, Nix said.

The low precipitation has had an impact on the county's water supply, said Guy Pihera, water production manager with the Clayton County Water Authorities. They have already last water in the county's reservoirs, something that usually doesn't happen until July, but thanks to last week's rainfall they were able to refill the reservoirs with water from the Flint River, Pihera said.

That doesn't mean residents should splurge on watering their lawns.

"We are asking for voluntary conservation at this point," Pihera said.

And in August statewide water restrictions are expected to be put in place. The restrictions will not include time restrictions as they did before but will use the "Even/Odd" system, Pihera said.

Residents with even numbered addresses will be allowed to water their lawns or wash their cars on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Odd numbered addresses will have Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays while Fridays will be restricted for everybody.