High heat warnings continue in many states across the U.S., and Western Washington is expected to join the list next week. By being prepared, state and local health officials hope the region will avoid losses incurred during the unprecedented heatwave of summer 2021.
The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory in the region from Friday through Monday night, however high temperatures are expected to continue through next week. Temperatures may climb into mid-90s or even into triple digits in some areas of Western Washington.
According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) babies and children up to age 4 as well as people over age 65 are at greatest risk for heat-related illness.
The Washington State Health Department, King County officials and local cities are all encouraging residents to heed the warnings and take precautions to avoid heat-related illness or death. The state health department reported more than 100 heat-related deaths in June and July of 2021.
They offer the following tips for keeping your kids and family safe in extreme heat conditions:
Hot weather precautions to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke
- Stay indoors and in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible unless you’re sure your body has a high tolerance for heat.
- Drink plenty of fluids but avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine or a lot of sugar.
- Eat more frequently but make sure meals are balanced and light.
- Never leave any person or pet in a parked vehicle.
- Avoid dressing babies in heavy clothing or wrapping them in warm blankets.
- Check frequently on people who are elderly, ill or may need help. If you might need help, arrange to have family, friends or neighbors check in with you at least twice a day throughout warm weather periods.
- Make sure pets have plenty of water.
- Salt tablets should only be taken if specified by your doctor. If you are on a salt-restrictive diet, check with a doctor before increasing salt intake.
- If you take prescription diuretics, antihistamines, mood-altering or antispasmodic drugs, check with a doctor about the effects of sun and heat exposure.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun. Awnings or louvers can reduce the heat entering a house by as much as 80%.
If you go outside:
- Plan strenuous outdoor activities for early or late in the day when temperatures are cooler; then gradually build up tolerance for warmer conditions.
- Take frequent breaks when working outdoors.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunblock and light-colored, loose-fitting clothes when outdoors.
- At first signs of heat illness (dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps), move to a cooler location, rest for a few minutes and slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention immediately if you do not feel better.
- Avoid sunburn: It slows the skin’s ability to cool itself. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes. A cool shower immediately after coming in from hot temperatures can result in hypothermia, particularly for elderly or very young people.
If the power goes out or air conditioning is not available
- If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine.
- Ask your doctor about any prescription medicine you keep refrigerated. (If the power goes out, most medicine will be fine to leave in a closed refrigerator for at least 3 hours.)
- Keep a few bottles of water in your freezer; if the power goes out, move them to your refrigerator and keep the doors shut.
- Trap cold air in the morning. Before the day starts to heat up, close your windows and draw the blinds on windows that are exposed to the sun. Try to keep windows or doors shut when it’s cooler inside than outside.
- Avoid heating your home with appliances like ovens.
- Know the signs of heat illness. Extreme heat can cause heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Signs of heat exhaustion include dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea and weakness. If someone is exhibiting these symptoms, move them to a cooler area and have them sip cool water. Seek medical attention if the symptoms don’t improve or if they worsen.