BEL AIR — With the heat index expected to exceed 105 degrees, the Harford County Department of Emergency Services, in cooperation with Harford County Public Library and the Harford County Health Department, will offer “cooling centers” at library branches from Wednesday, July 17, through Sunday, July 21.

All branches will be open as cooling centers for the days and hours listed below, with special Sunday hours from noon to 5 p.m. at the Bel Air and Aberdeen branches only.

The following branches will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Aberdeen – 21 Franklin Street, Aberdeen

Bel Air – 100 E. Pennsylvania Avenue, Bel Air

Edgewood – 629 Edgewood Road, Edgewood

Fallston – 1461 Fallston Road, Fallston

Havre de Grace – 120 N. Union Avenue, Havre de Grace

Jarrettsville – 3722 Norrisville Road, Jarrettsville

Joppa – 655 Towne Center Drive, Joppa

Norrisville – 5310 Norrisville Road, White Hall

Whiteford – 2407 Whiteford Road, Whiteford

The Darlington branch, located at 1134 Main Street in Darlington, will be open from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday; from 12 to 5 p.m. Thursday; from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Updated library information will be online at www.hcplonline.org or on the Harford County Public Library Facebook page.

During periods of extreme heat, the Harford County Department of Emergency Services encourages citizens to follow these safety guidelines:

• Stay indoors as much as possible and limit sun exposure;

• If you do not have air conditioning, open your windows and use a fan;

• Drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activity;

• Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle;

• Check on elderly neighbors and other vulnerable citizens;

• Keep pets hydrated with access to shelter.

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, a 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.

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