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DHSS Press Release

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: June 12, 2017


DOVER (June 12, 2017) - Though the official start of summer is still a week away, the Division of Public Health (DPH) is taking the opportunity to encourage residents to prepare for days of extreme heat as temperatures start to go up. The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for New Castle County for Tuesday and all three counties are under an Air Quality Alert on Monday.

DPH advises Delawareans to expect heat waves when the temperature exceeds 95 degrees. Our bodies have less chance to recover during hot days and warm nights, placing everyone at risk for heat-related illness. When temperatures and humidity are high, sweat ceases to evaporate and the body's natural cooling system slows down or shuts down completely. Hot weather can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and severe respiratory conditions, which can be fatal.

Extreme heat is especially dangerous for seniors, young children, people with disabilities, and people with breathing conditions and other chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory problems. A 2012 study showed significant risk to those with heart disease. Higher temperatures, not even in the extreme, were associated with higher levels of inflammation in patients with preexisting heart health conditions. The study found that elevated temperature can trigger heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems in people being treated for heart disease.

Also at risk are people without access to air conditioning, fans, or cooling shelters.

Make a Heat Safety Plan: DPH suggests that every household make a heat wave plan in case of a power outage. Air conditioners should be serviced and electric fans should be obtained now, before the heat rises to dangerous levels. Cases of bottled water should be kept on hand and residents should listen to local news reports for the locations of community "cooling centers," which are often public libraries or churches. During days of extreme heat, Delawareans should check on vulnerable members of their families and neighbors.

For those who may need additional assistance, Delaware 2-1-1 connects Delawareans with critical services and support. Eligible callers can receive referrals to summer cooling and crisis assistance, the City of Wilmington's Free Electric Fan Program for seniors, and nearby cooling centers.

Tips to prevent heat illness:

Heed the following heat danger warning signs and take suggested actions:

For more information, visit the CDC at

Make a Heat Plan for Pets: DPH also urges pet owners to make a plan for caring for their pets. Animals at the greatest risk of stress from the heat include pregnant or lactating animals, very young and older animals, animals with darker coats, obese pets, short-nosed dog breeds, and animals with chronic health conditions. Signs of heat stress can include panting, increased salivation, restlessness, muscle spasms, increased heartbeat and body temperature, weakness, lack of coordination, bright red or pale and sticky gums, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.