OUR VIEW: Beware of summer heat dangers

It seems like common sense, but every year we hear about children or dogs left in hot cars, or people being hospitalized due to heat-related illness.

On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes.

Amidst this week’s heat wave, we feel the need to remind people to take precautions so they don’t become the next front-page headline. Since last weekend, the temperature has been in the mid to high 80s with overnight lows only dipping into the 70s. According to weather.com, Manistee is under a heat advisory until midnight on Friday.

From 1999 to 2010, a total of 7,415 deaths in the United States, an average of 618 per year, were associated with exposure to excessive natural heat. The highest yearly total of heat-related deaths (1,050) was in 1999 and the lowest (295) in 2004. Approximately 68 percent of heat-related deaths were among males.

Michigan Department of Community Health offers these tips to avoid heat illness:

  • Use air conditioning or spend time in air-conditioned locations, when possible;
  • Take a cool bath, shower or swim;
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun;
  • Limit time outdoors as much as possible, but take frequent breaks if you must be outside;
  • Stay hydrated – drink water or non-alcoholic fluids; try to avoid fluids with caffeine, because they can dehydrate you;
  • Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes;
  • Check on your neighbors, friends and family members, especially those who are older, those with very young children, or those who have health problems;
  • Never leave children, the elderly or pets unattended in a vehicle. Even with the windows rolled down, or just for a few minutes, it is never OK to leave anyone in a vehicle in extreme heat; and
  • Use a fan when the windows are open or the air conditioner is on when the weather begins to heat up. Once the temperature reaches the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat illness.

Don’t forget man’s best friends in times of extreme heat. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers the following tips:

  • Never leave your pets in a parked car;
  • Watch the humidity, Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees;
  • Limit exercise on hot days;
  • Don’t rely on a fan;
  • Provide ample shade and water; and
  • Cool your pet inside and out.

Those most at risk of heat-related illnesses are people older than 65, the very young, the obese and those with blood or sweat-related illnesses or medications. This includes people with low blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, dehydration or malnutrition. The risk is especially high when air conditioning is unavailable for long periods of time, and during heat waves.

Remember, it is critical that you remain fully hydrated, during such extreme heat.

Enjoy the summer, Manistee, or what’s left of it. But at the same time, make sure you take all the necessary measures to protect yourself, your family and yes, your pets, too, from potentially dangerous heat-related conditions.


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