Seattle's Child

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More heat on the way

Drink lots of fluids during the upcoming week of high heat. Photo: iiStock

MORE heat on the way: Here’s how to beat it!

A few tricks will help your family beat the heat, day or night

Yes, we’ve seen hotter days and nights in Puget Sound and across Washington, but the warm streak continues this week and well into next according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures were still above 75 degrees at midnight On Thursday Aug. 18 – only the third time in the history of the weather service’s recording of nighttime heat levels. 

The heat is expected to rise into the 80s or even the mid-90s through the weekend and into next week. The Washington State Health Department, King County officials, local cities and other local news organizations offer plenty of ideas for staying cool and safe when the heat rises.

At night: 

The Seattle Times offers these great tips for staying cool on hot nights:

  1. Keep it dark. Close blinds and drapes completely on the sunny south and west sides of a house or apartment.
  2. Hang a damp, cold, thin towel in front of an open window so that air blowing into the house is cooled. 
  3. Place bowls of ice or frozen water bottles in front of a fan aimed at a bed.
  4. Put frozen ice or gel packs in pillowcases and place them at strategic points — under your neck, knees, wrists.
  5. Turn off and unplug every electrical appliance you can.
  6. Take a hot shower or bath one to two hours before bed. Counterintuitive yes but it works.

During the day:

  • 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-restricted 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.

More at Seattle’s Child:

“Beat the heat list: 7 ways to stay cool in King County”

 

About the Author

Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin is managing editor at Seattle's Child. She is also a certified doula, lactation educator for NestingInstinctsSeattle.com and a certified AWA writing workshop facilitator at Compasswriters.com.