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Harford opens cooling centers at libraries; pools, creeks top places to beat the searing heat

Pools and natural waters have been the popular places to be this week, as temperatures reached into the 90s across Harford County.

Because the heat index was expected to reach 105 degrees Monday and Tuesday, the Harford County Department of Emergency Services, in cooperation with Harford County Public Library and the Harford County Health Department, is offering “Cooling Centers” at all library branches during normal business hours.

Temperatures are expected to cool off a little bit, into the upper 80s, for July 4 and later in the week, according to the National Weather Service.

One of the popular places to cool off early Monday afternoon was Deer Creek in Rocks State Park, where a handful of people were enjoying the fresh water.

Elizabeth Melvin, of Annapolis, and Michael Buckley, of the Eastern Shore, drove to Harford County to check out one of Maryland’s featured swimming holes.

“We want to explore this part of Maryland,” the lifelong Annapolis resident, Melvin, said as she walked her dog, Che, along the shoreline of Deer Creek.

The couple and the dog had already been to nearby Falling Branch and Kilgore Falls in the morning.

Melvin loved the falls, she said.

“I got right under it, let it hit my head and shoulders,” she said. “It was worth the drive.”

The openness of Deer Creek also was very appealing.

“It’s the quintessential woods and river experience,” Melvin said.

Sitting a little upriver was Lisa Slade, of Street, who put her beach chair smack down in the middle of the creek.

She brought her mom, granddaughter and nephew.

“They love coming to the creek. I used to come all the time,” Slade said.

She comes a couple times a summer, and Monday, when she had off, was a perfect day to enjoy the creek while trying to cool off.

Another crew was maneuvering its way down Deer Creek in inner tubes.

Jennifer Curry, of Bel Air, brought her daughters, Cara, 18, Taylor, 15, and Allyson, 13, and their friend, Amelia Derickson, 12, of Pennsylvania, to the creek for some relaxation.

They walked upstream a bit, put in their tubes and floated down, then repeated the same thing, with a picnic lunch thrown in.

It was their first time there this summer, Jennifer Curry said.

“There’s a lot of different things you can do,” Allyson said.

“I like to jump off the rocks,” Amelia said.

“It’s refreshing. We wouldn’t wait to get here to cool off,” Jennifer Curry said.

For people who don’t have access to a creek or pool and are in need of a place to cool off, they can visit any of Harford’s 11 library branches during their operating hours.

Today and Tuesday, Harford libraries are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at all branches except for Darlington, which operates from 3 to 8 p.m.

The branch locations of Harford County Public Library are:

  • Aberdeen: 21 Franklin St.;
  • Abingdon: 2510 Tollgate Road;
  • Bel Air: 100 E. Pennsylvania Ave.;
  • Darlington: 1134 Main St.;
  • Edgewood: 629 Edgewood Road;
  • Fallston: 1461 Fallston Road;
  • Havre de Grace: 120 N. Union Ave.;
  • Jarrettsville: 3722 Norrisville Road;
  • Joppa: 655 Towne Center Drive;
  • Norrisville: 5310 Norrisville Road, White Hall; and
  • Whiteford: 2407 Whiteford Road.

For updated information, go to www.hcplonline.org or the Harford County Public Library Facebook page.

According to the Harford County Health Department, heat illness takes many forms, including heat fatigue, heat syncope (sudden dizziness after exercising in the heat), heat cramps, heat exhaustion or the most serious, heat stroke.

Heat stroke is an advanced form of heat stress that occurs when the body is overwhelmed by heat and unable to control its temperature.

A person with a body temperature above 104 degrees is likely suffering from heat stroke and may have symptoms of confusion, combativeness, strong rapid pulse, lack of sweating, dry flushed skin, faintness, staggering, possible delirium or coma.

Individuals with any of these symptoms, especially older adults, should receive immediate medical attention.

The Harford County Health Department offered some tips for staying cool, and staying safe in the heat.

“Stay hydrated, stay cool and stay informed. Check on your neighbors and the elderly to make sure they're OK and never leave your pets or children in the car,” Molly Mraz, spokesperson for the health department, wrote in an email.

She also recommended the following from the Centers for Disease Control: drink plenty of water, and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink; avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar; wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package; ask if tasks can be scheduled for earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat; wear a brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing; spend time in air-conditioned buildings during breaks and after work; and encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water.

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