Take precautions to keep yourself and your pet safe during days of extreme heat

July 25, 2023

With extreme hot temperatures expected today and throughout the week, Minneapolis City officials want to remind everyone how to stay safe in the heat. Heat-related illness happens when the body isn’t able to cool itself. Older adults, small children, people with underlying medical conditions and pets are the most vulnerable to heat-related illness, but everyone should take steps to stay safe in extreme heat.

The Minneapolis Health Department works closely with other local organizations 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 extreme heat is in the forecast. 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 during extreme heat

  • Drinking more fluids. Drinking fluids helps the body cool itself. People shouldn’t wait until they’re thirsty to drink. They should avoid drinking liquids with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar. Those can actually cause bodies to lose more fluid. People should remind anyone they are responsible for to drink more water.
  • Never leaving any person or animals in a parked vehicle. The temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise, even if the windows are cracked.
  • Wearing light colored, lightweight, loose-fitted clothing. Light-colored clothing reflects heat, and clothing that fits loosely keeps bodies cooler by allowing air to pass over.
  • Checking on neighbors who may be at risk. Visiting seniors and other vulnerable neighbors at least twice a day and looking closely for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke can help protect them. For people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, neighbors can call, text, video or meet them and keep a 6-foot distance. They should seek medical advice immediately if they notice nausea, weakness, disorientation, rapid pulse and dry skin.
  • Taking an air conditioning break. Air conditioning is the best defense against heat-related illness. If people live somewhere without air conditioning, they can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned or by using air conditioning in vehicles.

For a map of public, air-conditioned buildings for those who don’t have air conditioning in their homes, visit the Hennepin County website.

Protecting pets

The temperature inside a car can change drastically in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t have to be that hot outside for the temperature inside a vehicle to become dangerous to animals left inside – even with windows cracked. Animals left in vehicles can suffer from heatstroke and permanent organ and brain damage. Minneapolis Animal Care & 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 pets safe and alive:

  • Keep pets inside and out of the direct sun.
  • Make sure pets have a continuous supply of clean, cool water.
  • Never leave pets unattended in a parked car for any amount 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. A pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.
  • Protect pets’ paws by avoiding hot pavement when out on walks.
  • Don’t overdo outdoor exercise or play.
  • Take extra care with older pets and dogs with shorter noses.

Anyone who sees an animal outside or in a car showing signs of heat stress can contact Minneapolis Animal Care & Control immediately – in Minneapolis, by calling 311 (612-673-3000). If they believe the situation to be life-threatening, they can call 911.

For more information on heat-related illness and how to prevent it, visit the City’s emergency preparedness webpage.