As temperatures continue to soar into the triple digits along the Texas Gulf Coast, staying prepared and safe in the face of extreme heat is crucial. The Red Cross shared these essential tips for managing the scorching weather and ensuring the well-being of yourself, your loved ones, and even your furry friends.
In Houston, we’re no strangers to extreme heat, but it’s been a while since we’ve had this kind of heat wave. Extreme heat is a serious matter, with the potential to cause harm and even be fatal. Approximately 12,000 lives are claimed by this heat in the United States every year. With the increasing frequency and severity of heatwaves due to climate change, it’s more important than ever to take action and protect ourselves and our communities. So, let’s explore some practical heat safety tips that are easy to follow and can make a significant difference.
The Red Cross advises the following measures:
- Never leave children or pets in a hot car: The temperature inside a vehicle can rapidly rise to a scorching 120 degrees. Please exercise extreme caution and never leave them unattended.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, to keep your body cool and replenished. Avoid beverages containing caffeine or alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration.
- Look out for those at risk: Check on family members, friends, and neighbors who may not have access to air conditioning or spend a significant amount of time alone. Offer support and ensure they have access to cool places during the hottest parts of the day, such as schools, libraries, or shopping malls.
- Dress appropriately: Opt for loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing that reflects the sun’s rays. Dark colors tend to absorb heat and can make you feel even hotter.
- Take it easy: Slow down, limit outdoor activities, and avoid strenuous exercise during the peak heat hours. Listen to your body and seek shade or air-conditioned spaces when necessary.
- Stay connected: Use the buddy system when working outdoors in extreme heat. Take frequent breaks, find shade, and watch out for each other’s well-being.
- Keep your pets cool: Remember that animals are also susceptible to heat stroke. Please provide them with access to shade and plenty of fresh, cool water. Avoid walking them during the hottest times of the day, and never leave them in a hot car.
Recognizing the signs of heat stroke in yourself or others is crucial for early intervention. Look out for symptoms such as cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, weakness, or loss of consciousness. If you or someone else experiences these symptoms, take the following steps:
- If there’s a loss of consciousness or vomiting, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Move to an air-conditioned or shaded area.
- Drink cool water slowly.
- Apply ice or cold towels to the head, neck, groin, wrists, ankles, and underarms.
Remember, our furry friends are also at risk of heat stroke. Dogs with short noses or snouts, overweight pets, and those with thick fur coats or respiratory problems are especially vulnerable. Watch for signs such as heavy panting, restlessness, brick-red gum color, rapid pulse rate, and difficulty getting up. If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, cool them down with water and seek veterinary help if their rectal temperature is above 105 degrees.
To stay prepared and informed, consider downloading the Red Cross app “Emergency.” It provides valuable information and customizable weather alerts to keep you and your loved ones safe. The Red Cross First Aid app offers instant access to vital instructions for handling common first aid scenarios, including heat emergencies.
Let’s prioritize our well-being and that of our community. By following these tips and remaining vigilant during extreme heat events, we can protect ourselves, our loved ones, and even our beloved pets. Stay cool, stay safe, and enjoy the summer responsibly!