July 2016

Breathe easy when the weather gets hot

When the weather is hot and humid, breathing issues become more of a problem.  Sometimes even healthy people feel like it’s harder to breathe when the air is heavy with moisture, but for people with asthma, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and other chronic lung diseases, this type of weather can become dangerous.

Difficulty breathing can have various symptoms and be different for each person and dependent on the severity of the condition.  They may experience shortness of breath, have a frequent cough, make wheezing or whistling sounds and/or have chest tightness.   More severe symptoms of respiratory distress can include rapid breathing, a bluish tinge on the skin, lips and fingernails, and confusion.  Anxiety and restlessness are also very common.

The best way to avoid flare ups during extreme heat is to stay in an air conditioned environment as much as possible.  If you do not have A/C in your home or cannot afford to have it on, many towns provide cooling centers where you can go to get some relief.  If you’re not sure where these are located in your community, you can find out by dialing 211 from anywhere in the state, or by calling your local town hall.  Or, you can spend time at the library or mall to get some relief from the summer heat.

If you need to spend time outdoors, go out in the early morning or evening, avoiding mid-day when the sun and heat are the strongest.  Before leaving the house, check the air quality index online or by using an app such as AIRNOW.  Always have your inhaler or any other prescribed medicine with you, and take it as directed.  Avoid triggers such as cigarette smoke and pet dander and stay away from industrial areas where smoke and chemicals are more prevalent.

If you are having trouble breathing and your medicine is not helping, get medical attention as soon as possible.  If you see someone struggling to breathe or having any of the other symptoms mentioned above, call 911 immediately.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is a volunteer organization of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  With over 90 volunteers, we answer calls not only in Scotch Plains but in surrounding towns as well when needed.  Besides answering calls, you will see our ambulances at many special events held in town, such as Scotch Plains Day, the Memorial Day Parade, high school football games, and the summer concerts on the Village Green.  We are also available to provide demonstrations for Boys and Girls Scout troops, clubs, and any other group that may be interested in what we do.  In addition, we lend out wheelchairs, crutches, canes and other assorted medical equipment free of charge.  Please reach out to us if there is something we can do for you. Email us at scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com or call (908) 322-2103 for non-emergencies.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is entering its 78th year of all volunteer emergency medical services to the community of Scotch Plains and surrounding communities, a distinction that very few rescue squads in the state have reached.