State health and emergency preparedness agencies offer tips to stay healthy and safe.
State emergency management and health officials are urging everyone to “beat the heat” if you have to be outside or in non-air conditioned homes this week, and to check on older or isolated neighbors who may need assistance. Temperatures are expected to rise to the mid-90s, with heat indexes reaching a potentially dangerous 95-108 degree range.
Heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in Wisconsin and in the United States. Those who are most at risk are older adults and young children, and people living with chronic or mental health conditions. General heat exhaustion symptoms include fainting, rash, fatigue, and nausea. Skin can become clammy and moist, or hot and dry. Heat stroke can come on rapidly and may progress to life-threatening illness within minutes. If heat-related symptoms appear, action should be taken immediately to reduce body temperature. This includes taking a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath. Wearing wet clothing also has a cooling effect.
People who do not have access to air conditioning in their homes are encouraged to seek out air conditioned facilities such as public buildings, malls, libraries, or senior centers, or stay with family or neighbors who have air conditioning. Some cooling centers may have extended hours and services to alleviate the stress of high temperatures. Call 211 for more information on cooling centers in your area.
Here are some tips to keep safe in hot weather:
- Never leave anyone, especially children or pets, in a parked car – even briefly. Temperatures in a car can become life threatening within minutes. On an 80-degree day, the temperature inside a car, even with the windows cracked slightly, can reach 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
- Keep your living space cool. Cover windows to keep the sun from shining in. If you don’t have an air conditioner, open windows to let air circulate. When it’s hotter than 95 degrees, use fans. Basements or ground floors are usually cooler than upper floors.
- Slow down and limit physical activity. Plan outings or exertion for the early morning or after dark when temperatures are cooler.
- Drink plenty of water and eat lightly. Do not wait for thirst, but instead drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid alcohol or caffeine and stay away from hot, heavy meals.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Add a hat or umbrella to keep your head cool, and don’t forget sunscreen.
- Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should. Take extra care to stay cool and ask your doctor or pharmacist for any special heat advice as some medications can react adversely with increasing temperatures.
- Taking a cool shower or bath will cool you down. A shower or bath will actually work faster than an air conditioner. Applying cold wet towels to the neck, head, and limbs also cools down the body quickly.
- Check on neighbors throughout the day who may need assistance to protect themselves against dangerous temperatures.
- Empty any small containers, rain gutters, or any tires on property that may contain water. Standing water during extreme heat can lead to an increase in the mosquito population. Increased exposure to mosquitoes can increase the risk of mosquito borne diseases.
- Pets and livestock can also suffer from the heat. Make sure all pets and livestock have access to cool, clean water, and shade. If you can, bring pets inside where there is air conditioning. Try to provide shade for all animals pastured outside. Limit exercising your pet to early morning or late evening hours when it is cooler. Some of the signs of heatstroke in pets include heavy panting, glazed eyes, and excessive thirst. Seek veterinary assistance immediately.
- The heat can cause roads to buckle. For up-to-date closures and detour information visit www.511wi.gov (link is external), download the free mobile app or follow @511WI on Twitter.
For more tips on how to stay cool during heat, visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/climate/weather/heat.htm
Additional health and safety tips can be found at http://readywisconsin.wi.gov/ (link is external).