Dekalb offers cooling centers to residents in summer

By Jasmine Willett

DeKALB | The City of DeKalb is taking preventative measures this summer to reduce heat-related illnesses by offering cooling centers around the city.

These centers are the DeKalb Municipal Building, open 24 hours per day, and the DeKalb Public Library and the Senior Center, available during their normal hours of operation.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States between 1979 and 2003.

Natasha Prudent, health scientist from the Center for Disease Control, said community cooling centers provide a needed relief to citizens who rely on fans or do not have access to air conditioning at home.

“Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness,” Prudent said. “Moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.”

Prudent said exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce health problems caused by extreme heat like heat exhaustion, worsening of certain preexisting chronic diseases and premature death through heat strokes.

According to a press release from the DeKalb Fire Department, high humidity can cause one’s body to release heat less slowly because sweat is prevented from evaporating as quickly. The ability of the body to stay cool is also affected by factors like age, obesity, fever, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, prescription drugs, alcohol and dehydration. Staying hydrated is very important when the weather is hot or when humidity is high.

The press release stated it is best to plan ahead by checking the weather forecast and planning activities accordingly.