Summer is one of the most delightful seasons to enjoy and savor in the eastern region of New York State. From the great outdoors to the numerous fairs and festivals to just exploring one of the region’s many historic cities, there’s truly something for everyone. We all know that it’s hot out there and the soaring temperatures can be dangerous to people of all ages, as well as your pets. The American Red Cross wants everyone to stay safe for the remainder of the summer (and early autumn). It’s important to know that even a walk around the neighborhood, a bike ride or gardening can be risky for some people when it’s too hot.
For part 5 of our Summer Safety Series, we’re focusing on tips to help you beat the heat.
Unfortunately, summer heat and humidity can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year. That’s why it’s important to follow these simple tips to ensure you and your loved ones are keeping cool enough during the dog days of summer:
NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN OR PETS IN YOUR VEHICLE – EVEN FOR A SECOND. The inside temperature of a car can quickly reach 120 degrees, even if the outside temperature is well below that. Other heat safety steps include:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and stay hydrated! Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors as they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Slow down, stay indoors. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. (Generally around 3:00 p.m.)
- Postpone outdoor games and activities. Don’t attend if you believe that it’s unsafe to participate.
- Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be adversely affected by the heat. Pay special mind to vulnerable populations including the elderly, disabled, sick and/or homeless.
- If you don’t have air conditioning, go to public spaces (i.e. local libraries, malls, etc.) for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day.
- Check the local news and other outlets for important weather-related safety information.
Certain health problems and medications may increase sensitivity to heat. You should check with your doctor and pharmacist about any additional precautions you should take to help you stay safe this summer.
KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION
Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.
If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.
HEAT STROKE IS LIFE-THREATENING
Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.
The Red Cross has several resources for people to learn how to treat heat emergencies including online and in-person training courses (www.redcross.org/takeaclass), a free First Aid App and Pet First Aid App (www.redcrossorg/apps), and a First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.
DON’T FORGET YOUR PETS
Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of shade and cool water.
- Animals can suffer heat stroke, a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Some of the signs of heat stroke in your pet are:
- Heavy panting and unable to calm down, even when lying down.
- Brick red gum color
- Fast pulse rate
- Unable to get up
- If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally.
- If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees.
- Bring your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.
- Take the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course. This course provides owners, pet-sitters and dog walkers with step-by-step instructions for what to do if a pet is choking, has a wound, needs CPR or other care.
Don’t be afraid to go outside and enjoy the rest of your summer! Just remember to be prepared, use common sense, and know when it’s time to take a break from the heat.
For more on summer heat safety (including information for athletes and coaches and the locations of cooling centers) and links to many helpful resources, visit the New York State Department of Health at https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/weather/hot/.