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Heat safety tips: How to protect family, pets in dangerous summer heat

Posted June 13, 2022 8:00 a.m. EDT
Updated June 14, 2022 1:52 p.m. EDT

— Surviving the heat can be as easy as a little planning ahead and common sense.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Be aware of heat exhaustion and serious heat illness and know the signs, including headaches, excessive sweating, no sweating, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, confusion, fever and fatigue. Seek medical help immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Those most at risk for heat exhaustion include the very young and the very old, as well as anyone who is obese or on medications, such as antihistamines, diuretics or beta blockers.

Stay out of the heat, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when it's usually the hottest and the heat is the most intense.

If you have to be outside, take frequent breaks and find shade or air conditioning.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids, preferably water or a sports drink with electrolytes. Don't wait until you are thirsty.

Wear loose-fitting clothing, and instead of a baseball hat, which only covers the front of the face, wear a broad-rim hat that also covers the neck and shoulders.

Don't sit in a parked car or leave a child, senior citizen or pet unattended even for a few minutes. Closed vehicles can heat to dangerous levels in as little as 10 minutes.

Stay cool. If living in a home without air-conditioning, try to spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned places, such as shopping malls, libraries, the movies or friends' homes.

Check in on your loved ones, senior neighbors and others who do not have air-conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

Protect your pets

  • Limit your pet's exercise to early mornings and evenings.
  • Remember that asphalt becomes very hot, which can burn tender foot pads. Keep fresh water handy, and ensure that cooling shade is always nearby.
  • Never leave a pet in a parked car, even with the windows rolled down. Dehydration, heat stroke and even brain damage to the dog or cat can occur.
  • While all dogs and cats are at risk, older or very young pets, overweight pets, pets with heavy coats, and short-nosed dogs might need extra care.
  • Check on pets frequently, and make sure they always have fresh water and access to shade.

Prepare your home

  • Stay cool and save money by setting the thermostat to a comfortable level. Progress Energy recommends 78 degrees. Every degree above 78 degrees will reduce cooling costs by 3 percent to 6 percent.
  • Use fans to help circulate air, but be careful when air temperatures are above 95 degrees – hot air can add to heat stress.
  • Be sure your cooling system is working efficiently. Check filters, and make sure air-conditioning vents are not obstructed.
  • Close the drapes on the sunny side of the house to help keep the temperature down inside the home.
  • Use the microwave for cooking instead of the conventional oven, and when it comes to laundry, use cold water instead of hot water.