So we’re going to see dangerously high temperatures in the next few days if the forecasts are correct. In addition to the official guidance below, I’d like to add a couple of additional tips to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe. First, although hydration is critical, avoid drinking ice water or iced drinks on such hot days: this can cause cramping, arterial constriction, fainting, and other problems, and is considered bad for the heart in Chinese medicine. Cool hibiscus tea with lemon and mint is something I often enjoy. Second, if you don’t have air conditioning but do have a box fan or something similar, consider putting one or more pitchers, bottles, or other containers filled with ice behind the fan, and point it in your direction. Third, the most important thing is to keep your head cool and insides hydrated; I drink something cool every hour whether I’m thirsty or not, and splash my head with cool water.
Here are a few selections from official sources (visit the links for more complete information):
“…In severe instances, people can suffer heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Older adults, young children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk for heat-related illness. But even young and healthy individuals can suffer in heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
• Spend more time in air conditioned places. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting a mall, movie theater or other cool public places.
• Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.
• Dress in lightweight clothing.
• Take a cool shower or bath, or place cool washcloths on your skin.
• Check up on your elderly neighbors and relatives to take these precautions too.
• Drink plenty of water. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar because they can actually de-hydrate your body.
• Have a beverage with you at all times, and sip or drink frequently. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
“If you go outside
• Limit the time you’re in direct sunlight.
• Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.
• Avoid or reduce doing activities that are tiring, or take a lot of energy.
• Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours.
• Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.
“Recognizing heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Certain medications may increase sensitivity to the heat. If you are concerned about the heat and the medications you are taking, check with your doctor. Do not take salt tablets unless your doctor tells you to.
When people’s bodies can’t cool themselves quickly enough it can cause heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting. If you see someone with signs of overheating, move the person to a cooler location, have them rest for a few minutes and then slowly drink a cool beverage. Get medical attention for them immediately if they do not feel better.
Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability unless treated immediately. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
• An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
• Red, hot, and dry skin
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Nausea, confusion and unconsciousness”
“Keep Kids Safe
Never leave infants or children in vehicles unattended – even with the windows rolled down. Temperatures rise quickly in vehicles, even when the outside temperature is 60 degrees a vehicles interior can easily heat up to 110 degrees.
Pets are especially vulnerable in high heat and the Seattle Animal Shelter recommends the following:
• Never leave your animal unattended in direct sunlight. Provide a shady area for retreat and remember shaded areas move with the sun. Provide access to cool water at all times.
• If you leave animals indoors, open secured screened windows, keep a fan running, provide plenty of water, and, if possible, leave them in a cool location.
• Never leave animals unattended in a vehicle. Temperatures rise quickly leaving them trapped and unable to escape the heat. Under Washington state law an animal control officer or law enforcement officer has the authority to remove an animal from a vehicle by any means necessary if the animal is suffering or is likely to suffer from exposure to excessive heat and the owner may be charged with animal cruelty.
• Avoid overexerting your animal in hot weather. Exercise is fine when taken in moderation, but extreme heat conditions, obesity, old age, breed and underlying disease can predispose an animal to the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Hot pavement can quickly burn sensitive paws.
• For birds, take caution and place the bird’s cage away from direct sunlight during the intense heat of the afternoon. Provide water and fruits and vegetables with high moisture content.
• Smaller furred pets, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, can overheat easily. Snacks such as cucumber, melon or any watery vegetable can help keep them hydrated. Frozen water bottles can give them something cool to lie next to or near.”
Best of luck and stay safe this summer!