Excessive Heat Safety

During a Heat Emergency: (from the Federal Emergency Management Agency)

  • 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.  Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation;
  • Eat well-balanced, light, 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 clothing that covers as much skin as possible;
  • Protect head and face by wearing a wide-brimmed hat;
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, and who spend much of their time alone;
  • Never leave children or pets alone on closed vehicles;
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day.  Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.

Heat Safety for Pets: (from the Humane Society of the United States)

  • Never leave a pet unattended in the car on a warm or sunny day;
  • When taking a dog for a walk on a hot day, plan for shorter walks midday when temperatures peak, and longer walks in the morning and evening when it's cooler.  Hot sidewalks can burn the pads on a dog's paws, so walk on the grass when possible;
  • Pet rabbits should be kept indoors because they don't tolerate heat well.  Keeping a rabbit indoors will also provide protection from predators who might try to attack a rabbit in an outdoor hutch;
  • Shade and water are a must.  Anytime your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun (a doghouse does not provide relief from heat), and plenty of fresh, cool water.  Heat stroke can be fatal for pets as well as people;
  • Recognize the signs of heatstroke.  In case of an emergency, it's important to be able to identify the symptoms of heat stress caused by exposure to extreme temperatures.  When in doubt, contact your veterinarian immediately.  Some signs of heatstroke are:
    • Heavy panting;
    • Glazed eyes;
    • A rapid heartbeat;
    • Restlessness;
    • Excessive thirst;
    • Lethargy;
    • Fever;
    • Dizziness;
    • Lack of coordination;
    • Profuse salivation;
    • Vomiting;
    • A deep red or purple tongue;
    • Unconsciousness.
  • If the animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, take steps immediately to gradually lower the body temperature and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

What you need to know! (from the National Weather Service)

The heat index:

The Heat index, given in degrees F, is an accurate measurement of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature.

NOAA Heat Index chart

Heat index / Heat Disorders:
Heat index of 105 to 130 degrees: Sunstroke, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion are likely, and heatstroke possible with prolonged exposure or physical activity.

Know These Heat Disorder Symptoms!

  • Sunburn: Redness and pain.  In severe cases, swelling of skin, blisters, fever, and headaches.
    • First aid: Ointments for mild cases if blisters appear and do not break.  If breaking occurs, apply sterile dressing.  Serious, extensive cases should be seen by a physician.
  • Heat Cramps: Painful spasms usually in muscles of the legs and abdomen possible.  Heavy sweating.
    • First Aid: Firm pressure on cramping muscles, or gentle massage to relieve spasm.  Give sips of water.  If nausea occurs, stop giving water.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Heavy sweating, weakness, skin that is cold, clammy, and pale.  Pulse thready.  Normal temperature is possible.  Fainting and vomiting.
    • First Aid: Get victim out of the sun.  Lie down and loosen clothing.  Apply wet, cool cloths.  Fan or move victim to air conditioned room.  Give sips of water.  If nausea occurs, stop giving water.  If vomiting continues, seek immediate attention.
  • Heat Stroke (or sunstroke): High body temperature (106 degrees or higher).  Hot, dry skin.  Rapid and strong pulse.  Possible unconsciousness.

Know Your Terms! (from the National Weather Service)

Each National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (WFO) can issue the following heat-related products as conditions warrant:

  • Excessive Heat Outlook: Issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days.  An Outlook provides information to those who need considerable lead time to prepare for the event, such as public utilities, emergency management, and public health officials.
  •  Excessive Heat Watch: Issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 12 to 48 hours.  A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased, but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain.  A Watch provides enough lead time so those who need to prepare can do so, such as cities who have excessive heat event mitigation plans.
  • Excessive Heat Warning / Advisory: Issued when an excessive heat event is expected in the next 36 hours.  These products are issued when an excessive heat event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring.  The Warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property.  An Advisory is for less serious conditions that cause significant discomfort or inconvenience and, if caution is not taken, could lead to a threat to life and/or property.

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