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Red Cross issues safety tips as temperatures heat up

Staying hydrated, wearing loose clothing and postponing outdoor games and activities are recommended.
heatwave getty
(Getty Images)

CLEVELAND — With temperatures poised to hover in the upper 80s this weekend, the American Red Cross has issued warnings for handling the summer heat.

Most importantly: Never leave children or pets in your vehicle as the inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.

Other heat safety steps include:

  • Stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors as they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about four ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes. 

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.

The Red Cross says heatstroke can be life-threatening. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone shows signs of heatstroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

Another tip is to check on pets to see if they have plenty of shade and cool water. Animals can suffer heatstroke, a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Some of the signs of heatstroke in your pet are:

  • Heavy panting and unable to calm down, even when lying down.
  • Brick red gum color
  • Fast pulse rate
  • Unable to get up.
  • If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, take their temperature rectally.
  • If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees.
  • Bring your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.
  • Take the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course. This course provides owners, pet-sitters and dog walkers with step-by-step instructions for what to do if a pet is choking, has a wound, needs CPR or other care (redcross.org/catdogfirstaid).

The Red Cross has several resources for people to learn how to treat heat emergencies including online and in-person training courses, a free First Aid App and Pet First Aid App (www.redcrossorg/apps), and a First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.