Take precautions to keep yourself and your pet safe in extreme heat

MGN Photo courtesy of kyngpao

The heat is on and with the extremely hot temperatures expected today, health officials are reminding everyone how to handle the heat.

Heat-related illness happens when the body isn’t able to cool itself. Seniors, small children, people with physical disabilities and pets are the most vulnerable to heat-related illness, but everyone should take steps to stay safe in extreme heat.

The Minneapolis Health Department works closely with other local jurisdictions and the Minnesota Department of Health to help folks prepare for extreme heat events. Minneapolis has an emergency plan that is used to respond when extreme heat is in the forecast. The plan is coordinated with a metro-wide notification plan that reaches out to agencies that serve vulnerable populations.

Tips for preventing heat-related illness during extreme heat:

  • Drink more fluids. Drinking fluids helps the body cool itself. People shouldn’t wait until they’re thirsty to drink. They should avoid drinking liquids with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar. Those can actually cause bodies to lose more fluid. People should remind anyone they are responsible for to drink more water.
  • Never leave any person or animals in a parked vehicle. The temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise, even if the windows are cracked.
  • Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitted clothing. Light-colored clothing reflects heat, and clothing that fits loosely keeps bodies cooler by allowing air to pass over.
  • Check on neighbors who may be at risk. Visiting seniors and other vulnerable neighbors at least twice a day and looking closely for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke can help protect them. For people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, neighbors can call, text, video or meet them and keep a 6-foot distance. They should seek medical advice immediately if they notice nausea, weakness, disorientation, rapid pulse and dry skin.
  • Take an air conditioning break. Air conditioning is the best defense against heat-related illness. If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned and using air conditioning in vehicles.

For a map of public, air-conditioned buildings for those who don’t have air conditioning in their homes, visit the Hennepin County website.

  • Limiting outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest. Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. If people must be outside, they should try to limit their activity to morning and evening hours, pace their activity and take frequent breaks in the shade, drink plenty of fluids, and protect themselves from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.
  • Not relying on an electric fan. Electric fans may seem to provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Using wet cloths, showers or baths, or a spray of mist on exposed skin will help cool the body temperature.

Tips for wearing a mask in the summer heat

  • Choose a mask with breathable fabrics, such as cotton.
  • Bring an extra mask along to swap out if necessary. A mask that becomes damp with sweat can have less ability to block COVID-19.
  • People feeling overheated while wearing a mask can take it off for a moment and breathe, making sure that they are 6 feet apart from others. They should be sure to put it back on when they are ready to continue.

Protecting pets

The temperature inside a car can change drastically in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t have to be that hot outside for the temperature inside a vehicle to become dangerous to animals left inside – even with windows cracked. Animals left in vehicles can suffer from heatstroke and irreparable organ and brain damage. Minneapolis Animal Care and Control urges pet owners to take special precautions to protect their animals when the heat index is so high. Here are a few tips to keep pets safe and alive:

  • Keep pets inside and out of the direct sun.
  • Make sure pets have enough clean, cool water.
  • Never leave pets unattended in a parked car for any period of time. On a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120 degrees in a matter of minutes—even with the windows partially open. A pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.

Anyone who sees an animal outside or in a car showing signs of heat stress can contact Minneapolis Animal Care & Control (MACC) immediately—in Minneapolis, by calling 311 (612-673-3000). If they believe the situation to be life-threatening, they can call 911.

For more information on heat-related illness and how to prevent it, visit the City’s emergency preparedness webpage.

Source: The City of Minneapolis

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