We’re Having A Heat Wave. What To Do?

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Dogs In Car
Dogs In Hot Car | Photo by orlandopetservices.com

Our high temperature already topped out at 96 degrees on July first and 90 degrees July 9th and 10th, cooling to 80 on the 11th, back to 90 on the 11th, and 93 on the 12th. We did cool down drastically Sunday July 13th, but the potential for above 90 degrees will increase as this workweek progresses. Getting overheated can make you sick and even kill you. A total of 7,233 deaths due to heat related issues occurred in the US from 1999 until 2009. Those in the highest risk category are the very young, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness.

The Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic, Rochester,MN | Photo by visotmayoclinic.blogspot.com

The two major medical problems caused by exposure to heat and/or very high humidity are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat Exhaustion as defined by the Mayo Clinic “is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating, and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. It’s one of three heat-related syndromes, with heat cramps being the the mildest and heatstroke being the most severe. Heat Stroke as defined by the Mayo Clinic ” is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by doing physical activity in hot weather. You are considered to have heatstroke when your body temperature reaches 104 degrees F or higher.” That is when emergency medical treatment is needed. According to the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University so far this year there have been 16 heatstroke deaths of children in vehicles. Last year there were at least 44 deaths of children in cars.

Here is a quick test to see if the relative humidity is high when it is hot. Take a glass or glass mug full of ice with water, tea, lemonade, etc. filled to the brim. Take it outside (in the shade) if you have air conditioning or keep it inside if not. Leave it for ten minutes and if it has a lot of condensation drops dripping down the outside you have proof that you’re experiencing high humidity. If it is dry on the outside or just a little damp the relatve humidity is not that high. That is why we are so uncomfortable when it is both hot and humid. Just like the glass with ice cold liquid in it we perspire, but the sweat can’t evaporate when the air already has so much moisture in it. Our skin stays wet and uncomfortable until we can dry off.

A couple of questions immediately come to mind. First of all, what can we do to beat the heat? The second question may be even more important to ask and that is just how dangerous can hot weather be for us and even our pets?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) can be a great source of information on many topics and as you’d expect they do have rules that, if you follow them, should help you stay more comfortable and safe in hot weather. “Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as possible; Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty; Schedule outdoor activities carefully; Wear loose, lightweight, light colored clothing and sunscreen. Pace yourself; Take cool showers or baths to cool down; Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you; Do not leave children or pets in cars; Check the local news for health and safety.”

Let’s take a closer look at the rules. If you do not have air-conditioning in your home you can keep the blinds or curtains closed during the heating of the day to keep out the sun’s direct rays and use fans to circulate air from room to room. Examples of air-conditioned locations you could visit would be a friend or relative’s house, a mall, movie theater, or any public access building.

Drink Water When It's Hot
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration | Photo by collegelifestyles.org

You should drink plenty of fluids such as water, fruit juice, or maybe sports drinks. Hydration is your best friend when it is hot. It is recommended that you stay away from alcoholic drinks. They may initially make you feel cooler if they are refrigerator cold or on the rocks, but they tend to mess up your body’s thermostat so it becomes harder to keep cool. If you have outdoor chores or plan a run or jog it is best done during the coolest times of the day either early morning or in the evening near sunset.The clothing choice you make can help keep you cooler and you should reapply sunscreen multiple times if you are swimming or otherwise outdoors for a longer period of time. Cool showers or baths will help lower your body temperature. Checking on friends and relatives, especially the elderly, lets you know they are alright and having some one check on you can prevent you from having a serious problem without anyone to help you.

Chart Hot Car
Car Temperature Pet Safety Chart | Image www.roverpet.com

I’m sure you’ve seen and heard many stories of children or pets being left in a locked car. Most of those stories have a bad outcome usually resulting in death. Leave your pets home where they can have fresh water and shelter from the sun. The temperature can rise to over 120 degrees in a very short period in a closed-up car or truck (See chart above). Leaving the windows open a couple of inches or more does not allow enough of the hot air to escape and the results are still the same.

You should also pay attention to the local news and weather on TV, radio, newspapers, and of course here on EDN for information regarding the potential for heat-related problems.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

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