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Celebrate Independence Day, but Mind the Heat


Location: Washington, DC

Americans faced a state of emergency on July 4, 1776. Out of concern for the public good, representatives of the British colonies, assembled as the Continental Congress, adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Wednesday marks the 236th anniversary of our Independence Day. But simply declaring our independence didn't make it so. The Revolutionary War raged from 1775 to 1783.

Nevertheless, John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers, was optimistic about the outcome -- and that the Declaration of Independence would be remembered as an epoch moment. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, dated July 3, 1776, Adams wrote: "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore."

By illuminations, Adams meant fireworks. Celebrations featuring fireworks are scheduled throughout Ohio's Second Congressional District on Wednesday, ranging from Blue Ash in Hamilton County to Piketon in Pike County.

We in Southern Ohio are grateful to live in such a wonderful country. However, my thoughts and prayers are with residents who suffered as a result of the violent windstorms that swept through the region Friday. Trees were uprooted, property was damaged, and some people were injured. Nearly 1 million Ohioans were left without electrical power, and that was especially troubling because temperatures soared into the triple digits in many areas.

Without air conditioning, some residents found no relief from the heat for days. Some community pools had to close because they lacked power to run filtration systems.

Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency, and President Obama promised federal aid. My office has been in contact with local officials throughout the Second Congressional District, and I'm told that power has been restored to most homes and businesses. However, Pike County still had more than 1,800 without power as of Tuesday afternoon, while Scioto County had more than 5,400 and Hamilton County had more than 11,700.

Many local residents look forward to celebrating the Fourth of July, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a congressional advisory Tuesday -- asking that I remind all residents of Southern Ohio to use caution because of the extreme heat. "A heat index in excess of 100 to 105 (degrees) can be expected," the agency noted. Among tips offered by FEMA:

During extremely hot weather, you should take the following precautions:
· Stay indoors as much as possible, and limit exposure to the sun.
· Stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine, if air conditioning is not available.
· Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities that are air conditioned.
· Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals.
· Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
· Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
· Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
· Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
· Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
· Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone. It is especially important to check on the elderly, disabled and those with functional needs.
· Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.

I would add that if you or family members plan to shoot off fireworks, please keep in mind that the heat could increase the danger of accidentally starting a fire. Also because of the possible fire hazard, some communities could cancel local fireworks -- so you might want to check with organizers before heading out into the heat.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July. God bless you, and God bless our great nation.

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