Remember summer safety precautions before the expected weekend heat wave

Contact: Communication from the Ministry of Health

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) urges people to take precautions, stay cool and protect themselves before a record-breaking heat wave expected this weekend.

Stay indoors and in an air-conditioned environment as much as possible. Visit friends, family or neighbors with air conditioning or spend time in air-conditioned public places. If you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, be sure to wear a mask whenever you are indoors with people who do not live with you.

If air conditioning isn’t available to you, closing the blinds throughout the day when the sun is on the windows will help keep the interior cooler. Don’t rely on a fan as your sole source of cooling. While electric fans may provide some comfort, they will not prevent heat-related illnesses when temperatures are very hot. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid drinks that contain alcohol, caffeine, or a lot of sugar. Take water with you and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.

Help those who are vulnerable or at higher risk. Frequently consult with family, friends and neighbors who are elderly, ill or in need of assistance. Avoid dressing babies and children in heavy clothes or wrapping them in warm blankets. Keep pets safe outside in the heat, make sure they are protected from heat and sun, and have access to cool and cold water. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, walk on grass if possible. Never leave people or pets in a parked vehicle.

If you go out, protect yourself from the heat and the sun. Sunburns slow down the skin’s ability to cool down, so be sure to use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and loose, light-colored clothing. Look for shade in parks and green spaces where it will be cooler than in paved areas.

If you work outdoors, try to plan strenuous activities for early or late in the day when the temperatures are cooler. Take frequent breaks and hydrate regularly. Employers should take measures to protect those working outdoors, including adjusting work schedules and activities, providing access to water and monitoring workers for illness.

If you notice symptoms of heat illness (dizziness, nausea, headache, muscle cramps), take action immediately. Move to a cooler place to rest for a few minutes, and see a doctor right away if you don’t feel better.

Avoid extreme temperature changes. Taking a cold shower right after coming back from the heat or jumping into cold water while swimming outdoors can cause rapid changes in your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure, and even hypothermia.

To follow water safety advice if you go swimming or boating. Remember that swimming in open water is very different from swimming in a pool, and be sure to wear a life jacket that is right for you.

Before lighting an outdoor fire, check for restrictions or warnings in your area. High temperatures and dry conditions increase the risk of forest fires.

“Hot weather and high temperatures can quickly turn from uncomfortable to life-threatening,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “We can all take steps to reduce our risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke and help others stay safe. “

The DOH website is your source for a good dose of information. Find us on Facebook and Follow us on twitter. Subscribe to DOH’s blog, Public Health Connection.

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Susan W. Lloyd