Summer heat safety checklist for you (and your pets)

A heat wave is on the horizon for this weekend. Here's a list of pointers to help everyone stay safe as the thermometer rises.

Your health:

  • Water, water, water. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day. Even if you're in shade or even indoors, the heat can dehydrate you quickly. Don't wait until you feel thirsty.
  • Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen is a must for everybody. A recent national cancer study revealed that over half (51 percent) of the male population doesn't use sunscreen. Don't forget to get those tricky areas like your ears, scalp, back of the neck & knees, even lips can get sunburnt.
  • Stay indoors. Don't spend too much time outside in peak hours. Times between noon and 4 p.m. are normally when the hottest daily temps are recorded. If you want to exercise outside try getting out first thing in the morning or later in the day after the sun has set. (Just remember to wear appropriate gear to keep you safe and visible when exercising in the dark.)
  • Avoid the summer bloat. If you're being active or just want to look good in that swimsuit, remember to keep your body well energized. Soft drinks with artificial sweeteners, fast food, and even dairy products like ice cream can dehydrate you quicker and make you feel bloated.

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Kids in the sun:

  • Look for fun outdoor water activities. Things like slip-n-slides, visiting local splash pads, or spending some time in the pool can be a nice break from staying indoors all summer.
  • Educational indoor family fun. Try not to turn to the TV for quick entertainment. Visit a local library or take the family to a movie or local community event. Check your community calendars for things like free art classes or organized trips to locals museums.
  • Avoid the burn. Remember to reapply sunscreen to the little ones more frequently. Kids are more prone to painful sunburns. A Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 is recommended. It should be applied every hour in direct sunlight, more frequently if water activities are involved.
  • Remind them to drink and eat in between play. Kids expend more energy at a faster rate and are more prone to heat exhaustion. Teach your kids to drink plenty of fluids before and after any outdoor activities- even if they don't feel thirsty. For every hour spent in the sun kids should get 20 minutes rest in the shade, according to KidsHealth.org.
  • Keep it light. When spending extended amounts of time in the sun, have your child wear lighter, loose clothing.

Your baby's health:

  • Extra fluids. Just like the adults, babies should be drinking extra fluids, especially water. If you're a mom who is nursing, make sure you increase your fluid intake as well.
  • Cool air, cool baby. A baby should not be outside during a heat wave. A cool, air-conditioned room is the safest place to avoid heat related illnesses.
  • Keep it shady. If you have to go outdoors, use a canopy over your stroller to provide shade. If your baby is over 6 months, hats and sunglasses, along with lighter clothing can help keep him/her cool. And use sunscreen!
  • Signs of thirst. Since your baby can't verbally signal he/she is thirsty, hyperthermia can be a serious concern.

Here's what to look for: (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

  • Dry mouth or tongue
  • Few tears when crying
  • Few wet diapers (less than six a day)
  • Dark yellow or smelly urine
  • Sunken "soft spots," eyes or cheeks
  • Mottled, grayish, skin that's cool to the touch.
  • High fever
  • Listlessness

Never EVER leave a baby or child in a hot car. Not even for a minute with the windows cracked. Cars overheat in a matter of minutes.

For more helpful tips on keeping your child safe in the car check out a list here: Look Before You Lock

Senior citizens in the heat:

  • Drink up. Seniors don't have the ability to sweat as easily as younger people. Hydration is key. Dehydration can increase the risk of a serious cardiovascular event like a heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure.
  • Cut the caffeine. Avoid caffeinated drinks that can speed up dehydration. It's also a bladder irritant, meaning more trips to the bathroom. For the summer months opt for water or liquids with electrolytes.
  • Layer up. The transition between air-conditioning and outdoor heat can be strenuous. Wear light breathable clothing, like cotton materials, that can easily be put on and taken off.

As the heat increases, many local air conditioning companies are getting very busy.

CFO Mick Desserault with Jacobs Heating and Air Conditioning says, business is steadily increasing. He advises you be patient with your system, and says many systems in the Portland area are not designed for 100 to 110 degree temperatures.

"If the expectation is that your house is going to be 65 degrees with the air conditioner on, it's going to be very difficult for that system," he said Wednesday. He warns overworking your air conditioning system could cause it to fail.

He recommends keeping your home around 75 to 78 degrees. He also recommends opening your windows to let in cooler morning air. Then, once the sun is out, close up your home, including the drapes, to keep the heat away.

Your furry family member:

  • Avoid the heat. Just like humans, pets are prone to heat exhaustion. Keep your pets indoors during excessive heat warnings, no exceptions. And don't forget to keep them hydrated
  • Pool play. A baby pool is a great way to include your pet in outdoor family fun. Make sure the water is in a shady, safe area. Watch any kids playing in the same area.
  • Lose the chain. Never chain an animal outdoors in the heat, they could wander outside of the shade and get tangled up, keeping them from cooler spots and water sources. Always make sure your pet has access to a cool, non-metal container with clean water.
  • Street heat. Don't exercise your pooch in peak heat hours. The concrete and pavement can burn your dog's paws. Save the walks for early mornings or late evenings. Remember to wear proper gear to make you visible to cars and bikers at night.
  • Take it slow. Do not over-exercise your pet. If they do become ill in the heat, you probably won't notice until its too late to get help.
  • Stick together. Just like a child, same rules apply. Never, EVER leave your pet in a parked car.

If you witness a pet in distress, please contact 911 or law enforcement for that jurisdiction. Failure to provide a pet with adequate water or shelter or leaving a pet in a car on a hot day may lead to animal cruelty charges.


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