Some extreme heat is expected to arrive in Connecticut this weekend, and I’d like to remind you to please look after yourselves and your loved ones – particularly infants, the elderly and pets – in the hot weather.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health gives some great tips on protecting your health and keeping cool while temperatures are extremely high:
- Drink Plenty of Fluids
Even if you’re not very active, you will need to drink more fluids than normal and avoid hot and heavy meals. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol, or a lot of sugar—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
During heavy exercise in the heat, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour. If you exercise with your pet, always carry extra water (ideally with ice cubes) to keep them from getting dehydrated as well.
- Replace Salt and Minerals in Your Body
Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. A sports drink can replace these important minerals. If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports drink or taking salt tablets.
- Wear the Right Clothing and Sunscreen
Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and wear as little as you can when at home. Sunburn not only causes pain and damages the skin, it also affects your body’s ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels) 30 minutes before going out. Reapply it according to the package directions.
Also, be especially careful with pets who have white-colored ears as they are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets as they typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.
- Go Outside When it’s Coolest
Try to limit your outdoor activity – and your pets’ activity – to the morning and evening and pace yourself. Try to rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to cool off.
Stay indoors if possible, ideally in an air-conditioned place. Using your stove and oven less helps to keep your home cooler. Taking cool showers and using electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illnesses. Fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people, either. Pets respond differently to heat than humans – dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.
If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a shopping mall or public library – even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call the Glastonbury Health Department at (860) 652-7534 or the Manchester Health Department at 860-647-3173 to see if there are any local heat-relief shelters open.
- Use a Buddy System
When working in the heat, watch the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.
- Check The Car Before Locking It
Finally, though it may seem like common sense, it is critically important to never leave a child or pet in a hot car. Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke, or even death.
Click here for information from The Humane Society on what to do if you see a pet trapped in a hot car.
My dog, Truman, loves shopping in air-conditioned stores!
Further tips on keeping your pet safe from heatstroke include:
- Keeping track of their temperature (a dog’s temperature should not rise above 104 degrees).
- Providing shade under trees or with tarps that allow for air flow (a doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse).
- Making pet-friendly popsicles.
- Soaking them in a bath or using a cooling body wrap, vest or mat.