Take precautions to keep you and your pet safe during days of extreme heat
As temperatures rise this week, and with many people planning outdoor activities to celebrate Independence Day, Minneapolis City officials want to remind folks how to handle the heat. Heat-related illness happens when the body isn’t able to cool itself. Seniors, small children, and people with physical disabilities are the most vulnerable to heat-related illness, but everyone should take steps to stay safe in extreme heat.
The City’s Department of Health and Family Support works closely with other local jurisdictions and the Minnesota Department of Health to help folks prepare for extreme heat events. Minneapolis has an emergency plan that is used to respond when a heat advisory or warning is called by the National Weather Service. The plan is coordinated with a metro-wide notification plan that reaches out to agencies that serve vulnerable populations.
Tips for preventing heat-related illness:
- Drink more fluids. Drinking fluids helps your body cool itself. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid drinking liquids with caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar. They can actually cause your body to lose more fluid.
- Never leave any person or animals in a closed, parked vehicle.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitted clothing.
- Check on your neighbors who may be at risk. Visit seniors and other vulnerable neighbors at least twice a day and look closely for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Seek medical advice immediately if you notice nausea, weakness, disorientation, rapid pulse and dry skin.
- Stay indoors if you can. Air conditioning is your best defense against heat-related illness. If you must be outside, try to limit your activity to morning and evening hours, take frequent breaks in the shade, drink plenty of fluids, and protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen. The City of Minneapolis provides a list of public, air-conditioned buildings for those who don’t have air conditioning in their homes.
- Don’t rely on an electric fan. Electric fans may seem to provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Using wet cloths or a spray of mist on exposed skin will help cool your body temperature.
Protect your pets
High temperatures can also have adverse effects on pets. Minneapolis Animal Care and Control urges pet owners to take special precautions to protect their animals when the heat index is so high. Here are a few tips to keep your pets safe and alive:
- Keep your pet inside and out of the direct sun.
- Be sure your pet has enough clean, cool water.
- Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car for any period of time. On a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120 degrees in a matter of minutes -- even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.
If you see an animal outside or in a car exhibiting signs of heat stress, call Minneapolis Animal Care & Control (MACC) immediately -- in Minneapolis, dial 311 (612-673-3000). If you believe the situation to be life-threatening, please call 911.
For more information on heat-related illness and how to prevent it, visit the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support website.
Published Jul 3, 2012