The temperature sizzled into the 90s and humidity shoved the heat index well above 100 degrees in Warren County on Friday.
Most people did what they could to avoid the heat Friday and there was little foot traffic to be found in downtown Warren, but for some, staying out of the heat isn't an option.
Only two PennDOT crews were working outside in the county one doing spot patching work on Conewango Avenue and one in the Tidioute area. Other workers were inside, preparing for projects slated for next week.
Jim Edmisten and John Edmiston the differing spellings because they're brothers-in-law were busy finishing up painting on the outside of the Subway building at the foot Market Street.
"I don't know what you can do to compensate," Edmisten said of the heat. "Get some ice water in you. We're puttin' in a lot of ice water."
City of Warren Fire Department Chief Sam Pascuzzi said working in the heat is especially dangerous for emergency personnel.
"From a firefighting perspective, this type of weather is dangerous. Personally, I think it's more dangerous than the opposite, which is working in extreme cold," Pascuzzi said. "You can imagine. You get this kind of weather and you put on 50 pounds of gear that insulates you anyway and you lose fluid fast. It's similar to going into shock from a loss of blood. It's important to stay hydrated."
Pascuzzi said the department does have a standard operating procedure for ensuring personnel's safety in hot weather conditions.
"When we respond to a fire, we're susceptible (to heat stroke and exhaustion) in about 10 to 15 minutes," Pascuzzi said. "When it's this hot, we call for help early. We have a limited number of responders so we call for help right away. We rotate people in and out. We have a rehab station with mist fans we use. We monitor (emergency personnel) vitals and they don't go back in until they're normal. Everyone gets at least a 20-minute break."
"A wide range of heat-related illness ranges from mild heat exhaustion to fatal heat stroke," Dr. Michael Faulk, Emergency Care Center medical director for Warren General Hospital, explained. "The body will lose significant amounts of fluids on very hot days, so paying attention to rehydration is important."
For those who have to be outside and working when temperatures soar, the risk of heat stroke and exhaustion must be accounted for. There are steps that can be taken to help avoid the conditions.
According to a Pennsylvania Department of Health press release:
Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and don't wait until you are thirsty to drink liquids.
Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar as they can cause dehydration.
Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours and try to rest in shady areas.
Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
Faulk emphasized that in "excessive temperature situations" people should seek air conditioning or, if not available, cool, shady areas. He said "misting" the body with a cool, moist mist using a fan is also helpful.
"Minimize activity," Faulk noted. "Avoid yardwork and sports and games."
"Heat stroke victims may experience a body temperature above 103 degrees; red, hot and dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion and unconsciousness," the Department of Health press release stated. "Symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting."
According to the Center for Disease Control, "The elderly, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases," are at the highest risk of heat-related illnesses. Faulk agreed, saying special attention should be paid to those at "the extremes of age, the very young and the elderly."
Heat stroke can result in death or serious injury and heat exhaustion can become heat stroke if a sufferer does not take steps to cool their body temperature.
Faulk said even mild symptoms of heat exhaustion should be taken seriously and cited being unexplainably tired and feeling light-headed are symptoms. Victims of heat stroke can exhibit a lack of sweating and confusion or altered mental state.
"Certainly seeking medical attention at the nearest emergency room if friends or family notice exhaustion or confusion is important," according to Faulk.
Pascuzzi said calls to respond to heat stroke and exhaustion are rare in the city.
"We don't get a lot of heat exhaustion or heat stroke calls," Pascuzzi said, "so people in this area are aware of what needs to be done."