JONESBORO — The hottest days of the year are forecast for this weekend and residents are urged to stay cool and hydrated.
Temperatures topped 100 degrees Friday and more of the same is expected all weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Weather experts reported 206 heat-related deaths in the United States in 2011.
Clayton County fire Chief and Emergency Management Agency Director Jeff Hood said residents need to take hot weather seriously.
"Extreme heat can be dangerous and deadly, particularly for the elderly and infants," said Hood. "Staying indoors and drinking plenty of water will help you stay cool and hydrated when temperatures rise."
At The Beach in Jonesboro Friday, families with children sweltered under colorful umbrellas in between dips in the cool water. Toddlers romped in the kiddie pool, delighting in the fountain sprays. Inside the air-conditioned building, a long line of swimming suit-clad kids stood in line at the concession stand.
That's one way to stay cool. Hood offered a handful of other tips.
"Insulate your home by installing weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the cool air inside," said Hood. "Stay indoors in air-conditioning spaces as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun. Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible."
Residents should familiarize themselves with the medical conditions that can result from over-exposure to heat, he said. They include heat exhaustion and heat stroke. For people who have to work outside, Hood recommended avoiding strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day.
"Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks," he said.
It's important that children and pets are also provided for when temperatures take off.
"Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles," said Hood. "Make sure pets have plenty of water and shade. Be careful not to over-exercise them and keep them indoors when it's extremely hot."
Severe weather tends to pop up during the hot summer months, too.
"Postpone outdoor activities and take shelter in a home, building or hardtop automobile if severe weather is headed your way," said Hood. "Closely monitor a local radio station, television station or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information on excessive heat watches and warnings."
Hood also recommended a website with more information on emergency preparedness, www.ready.ga.gov.
"Visitors can create an online profile to receive a tailored plan for the entire family that includes the specific amount of supplies to put in their household ready kits," he said. "In addition, the site's free mobile app provides alerts and preparedness information for people on the go."
For more information, call the Clayton EMA at 770-477-3511.