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High temperatures making air unhealthy

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

High temperatures are making their way through the valley, and local agencies are urging residents to take caution during their weekend activities.

The American Red Cross Top of Virginia Chapter sent out a news release Thursday that listed tips to keep in mind when you plan to be out in the sun.

"Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, and the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses," the release states. Temperatures are expected to climb into the 90s and possibly reach 100 degrees this weekend.

Staying hydrated is a simple and effective way for individuals to avoid heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. A person experiencing symptoms of heat-related illnesses might have cool, moist, pale, flushed or red skin and can be nauseous and dizzy. A person exuding such signs should be moved to cool place and given cool water.

If possible, community members should try to stay inside, but if they are outside it's important to take breaks and do any strenuous activity during the coolest part of the day which is in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.

ValleyAIRNow, a community partnership of businesses, government agencies and citizens, also sent out a warning on Thursday stating that "weather conditions are favorable for a Code Orange Air Quality Alert."

A Code Yellow, meaning moderate air quality, was set on Thursday, but a Code Orange suggests an unhealthy atmosphere for "sensitive groups."

Wendy May, Marketing Coordinator of the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission, which maintains ValleyAIRNow, said sensitive groups include people with lung disease or asthma, as well as the very young and elderly.

"It's been a pretty mild season so far," she said of the air quality in previous months. "Local companies have been doing green efforts which has really helped the air quality in the valley. But even if you don't have any kind of breathing issue, when temperatures get this high it can be dangerous."

ValleyAIRNow encourages people to participate in carpooling, and to refuel vehicles in the evening to limit fumes mixing with sun light, which can produce harmful ozone.

Other ways to help reduce ground-level ozone include not topping off your gas tank, waiting to mow the grass until sunset, and avoiding drive-thrus and other idling engine situations.

For more information, visit www.valleyairnow.com.

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