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When a fan won't help and other tips for staying healthy in the heat

The high heat can be dangerous for those who aren't prepared for it, especially senior citizens and children under age 4.

Erie County leaders are urging residents to take precautions as heat indices reach their peaks during the next few days.

"Anyone can become dehydrated," said Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein. "Those most vulnerable are the elderly, people who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless or poor, and people with a chronic medical condition. Excessive heat can lead to sunburn; heat cramps; heat exhaustion and heat stroke."

The Health Department issued warnings and recommendations this week to help residents cope. A number of the recommendations are common sense, like finding public places with air conditioning and seeking shade outdoors. Other recommendations include:

• Do not use electric fans when the temperature outside is more than 95 degrees. You could increase the risk of heat-related illness. Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort but do not reduce body temperature.

• Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30. Apply it generously before going outside and reapply it every 2 hours.

• Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

• Drink plenty of fluids but avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water.

Officials also warned residents not to leave any child, adult or animal alone inside a vehicle, even with windows cracked.

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