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Hot enough for you?
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The dog days of summer have arrived with a vengeance as a heat wave continues to roast citizens of Newton County.

Vernon Goins, the public information officer of the Newton County Health Department, said staying hydrated should be people's number one priority during these sweltering days.

"Water is the perfect solution," Goins said.

While most liquids will get the job done, there are certain beverages that should be avoided.

"Anything that would act as a diuretic should be avoided," Goins said. "Coffee is an example of a natural diuretic."

More active individuals should be prepared not only to drink more water, but also to have a flexible workout schedule.

"Everyone should take precautions, not just those who are most susceptible," Goins said "This is especially true for people who are going to be exercising or working outside."

Experienced runners, joggers and walkers should move their exercise routine to either early morning or late evening. Goins personally likes to run at around 8 p.m. as the sun is going down. Now might not be the ideal time for those beginning a new program.

"If you are just starting a program, you may want to hold off for awhile," Goins said. "People need to build up a resistance to the heat, which is hard to start right now."

Some common signs that a person may be too hot include a sudden change in ability to sweat, a sudden coolness or clammy skin.

Goins said the elderly have to be particularly cautious this time of the year. Rebecca Barr is the manager of Home Hearts Care, a group dedicated to assisting the elderly who live at home. The workers have had to take extra safety measures during this summer.

"We try to keep their thermostats set between 70 and 75 degrees, but even then it can be hot for them if they are on blood thinners. Sometimes it can be so hot the little old people have a hard time breathing."

As another precaution, Barr said the workers tried to keep the elderly as hydrated as possible.

"We don't normally visit after 6 p.m., so we make sure they drink as much water as possible while we are there so they can stay hydrated throughout the night until we come back," Barr said.

While most of Barr's customers can afford air conditioning, not everyone is so lucky. Goins said the elderly are the most likely age group to have no air conditioning in their homes. Fortunately, persons of any age are welcome to take a cool down break in at the Newton County Library, said Director Greg Heid.

"The library is traditionally a place where the public goes to when it gets hot," Heid said. "We have noticed the same thing happening with more people coming in than normal."

Heid said earlier this week a woman came to the library and balanced her checkbook while waiting for her air conditioner to be fixed.

"The public is always welcome at the library," Heid said.

Like the elderly, young children are also very susceptible to the elements. They are more likely to want to be outside, Goins said, but parents should be sure to keep their children inside during the hottest parts of the day.

This can extend to older students as well. Band directors from two Newton County schools have had to change plans to accommodate the weather.

"We are taking the kids outside less than if it was cooler," said Alan Fowler, band director at East Side High School. "We are doing everything we can inside and then taking them outside only for final run thorough."

The students are also allowed extra water breaks while outside. A sprinkler system has also been installed to help keep them cool, Fowler said.

Band students at Alcovy High School only practiced inside this week.

"Every summer there are days when the heat is something to be reckoned with, but this has been particularly bad with the heat wave," said Lloyd McDonald, the band director at Alcovy. "We've even done some marching inside."

McDonald hopes to get the students back on the field next week if the weather breaks. The National Weather Service's Web site forecast temperatures to lower to highs in the mid-90s.

Goins said the homeless are another group that might need extra help during the dog days of summer. They are obviously exposed to the elements and Goins urges shelters to be at their most diligent.