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Stay Cool (and Safe!) in the Heat
Friday, July 14, 2017

Heat Safety Tips

North American summers are hot. Sometimes spring and fall temperatures reach dangerous levels as well. Most summers see heat waves in one or more parts of the United States. Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year and even more heat-related illnesses. In addition to the resources below, OSHA offers a free OSHA Heat Safety App for both Android and iPhone.

  • Slow down: reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads. If you pack food, put it in a cooler or carry an ice pack. Don't leave it sitting in the sun. Meats and dairy products can spoil quickly in hot weather.
  • Drink plenty of water (not very cold), non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty. If you on a fluid restrictive diet or have a problem with fluid retention, consult a physician before increasing consumption of fluids. 
  • Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries.
  • Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air.
  • Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°F. The dry blowing air will dehydrate you faster, endangering your health.
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body's ability to dissipate heat.
  • Take a cool bath or shower.
  • Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
  • Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat. Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia.  Keep your children, disabled adults, and pets safe during tumultuous heat waves.
  • Don't leave valuable electronic equipment, such as cell phones and gps units, sitting in hot cars.
  • Make sure rooms are well vented if you are using volatile chemicals.
  • For more heat health tips, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Outdoor workers can be at a higher risk to the effects of excessive heat.  See Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) resources and recommended practices when working under hot conditions.

  • Drink water often
  • Rest and cool down in the shade during breaks
  • Gradually increase workload and allow more frequent breaks for new workers or workers who have been away for a week or more
  • Know symptoms, prevention, and emergency response to prevent heat-related illness and death  
  • Check weather forecasts ahead of time to be better prepared

Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia, which occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day with temperatures in the 70s. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The younger the child the more severe the effects because their bodies have not developed the ability to efficiently regulate its internal temperature.

 

Even on mild days in the 70s, studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects are more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults. A dark dashboard or carseat can quickly reach temperatures in the range of 180°F to over 200°F. These objects heat the adjacent air by conduction and convection and also give off long wave radiation, which then heats the air trapped inside a vehicle. Follow these tips to ensure your child's safety.

  • Touch a child's safety seat and safety belt before using it to ensure it's not too hot before securing a child
  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down, even for just a minute
  • Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars. They could accidentally trap themselves in a hot vehicle.
  • Always lock car doors and trunks--even at home--and keep keys out of children's reach.
  • Always make sure children have left the car when you reach your destination. Don't leave sleeping infants in the car ever.

Don’t forget you pets’ safety, too!!

  Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.

  Know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.

  Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

  Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states!

  Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals.

  Open unscreened windows pose a real danger to pets, who often fall out of them. Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed, and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

  Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

  When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

For more information visit:  http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/heat/during.shtml and https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/hot-weather-safety-tips

Stay safe (and cool) out there!

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