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High Hurricane Season

Well, with Tropical Storm Dorian on its way across the Atlantic, it seems evident that we’re about to plunge headlong into high hurricane season.  August, September and October are always the most active months, but in reality, how often do the storms hit our area directly?  Let’s take a quick look at the past ten hurricane seasons, some of the most active on record, to see.  Remember, tropical depressions become tropical storms, which become hurricanes, which become “major” hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5).

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Staying Cool

It’s the dog days of summer, especially here in Florida.  We’ve gone over how to keep yourself safe in a hurricane if you’re elderly or infirm, so we thought it would be a good time to go over how to stay safe in the heat.  What to look out for, what to do, and what preventative measures you can take, straight from the Centers for Disease Control!

Elderly people (that is, people aged 65 years and older) are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons:

  • Elderly people do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
  • They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
  • They are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Warning signs vary but may include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

You can follow these prevention tips to protect yourself from heat-related stress:

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages. (If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Also, avoid extremely cold liquids because they can cause cramps.)
  • Rest.
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
  • If possible, seek an air-conditioned environment. (If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting an air-conditioned shopping mall or public library to cool off.)
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • If possible, remain indoors in the heat of the day.
  • Do not engage in strenuous activities.

What You Can Do to Help Protect Elderly Relatives and Neighbors

If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, you can help them protect themselves from heat-related stress:

  • Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of their activity level.
    Warning: If their doctor generally limits the amount of fluid they drink or they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Take them to air-conditioned locations if they have transportation problems.

What You Can Do for Someone With Heat Stress

If you see any signs of severe heat stress, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the affected person. Do the following:

  • Get the person to a shady area.
  • Cool the person rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the person in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the person with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101°–102°F
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the person alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.


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American Flag Evolution

We all know what tomorrow is, so we thought it would be fun to take a quick look back at all of the variations over the past 237 years of those gorgeous stars and stripes, the American flag!

But there’s a few funny things to be aware of.  First off, the first American flag was NOT the “Betsy Ross Flag” with a circle of thirteen stars.  It was a flag with the familiar stripes, but instead of a field of stars, there was a British Union Flag in their place.  This “Grand Union Flag” was very, very similar to the flag of the British East India Company.  It wasn’t until June 14th, 1777, that an official design was declared by the Continental Congress, and the familiar stars and stripes came into use, but not as a national flag, as a navy ensign, to be flown on naval ships.  And, even more interesting, the resolution passed by Congress was not specific about how the stars and stripes should be arranged, resulting in a wide variety of shapes and arrangements of stars over the years.  Arrangements weren’t made official until the 48-star flag in 1912!  Even the colors weren’t officially locked down until 1934!

In 1795, with fifteen states in the union, the number of stripes was increased from thirteen to fifteen along with the stars.  This could have gotten messy (imagine a flag with 50 stripes!), and, thankfully, they went back to thirteen stripes representing the original Thirteen Colonies in 1818, which was also when the notion of adding a star for each new state was created.  Officially, the flag’s new number of stars (and, now, the official design) becomes official nationwide on the first July 4th after a new state is admitted.  This is why there was a 49-star flag for one year, even though both Alaska and Hawaii became states in 1959, since Alaska became a state in January 1959, causing a 49-star flag to be adopted that July, but Hawaii didn’t become a state until August 1959, causing the current 50-star flag to become official on July 4th, 1960.

And, there are, believe it or not, designs already in stand-by with 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 and 56 stars on them, just in case (one for each of the five U.S. Territories and DC, probably,  in case they become states).

Whew!  Really, we could go on forever (did we mention the Betsy Ross story is probably a legend, and that New Jersey’s Francis Hopkinson probably was the actual designer of the 1777 flag?), but we’ll stop now, let you get back to your fireworks and cookouts, and let you take a look at this gallery of flags through the years!