How to stay cool in the heat this weekend
There's no doubt summer is here. Temperatures this week in the South Sound are forecast in the upper 80s and low 90s, according to the National Weather Service. Today is expected to be the hottest day, with temperatures in the low 90s during the afternoon.
The weather service and MultiCare doctors agree: the most important thing to do to avoid getting sick from the heat is to drink plenty of cold water and stay in a shaded or air-conditioned environment.
Be aware of most-at-risk
It’s important to be hyper-vigilant about checking on infants, toddlers and the elderly, who are especially susceptible to heat stroke, a dangerous condition with a high mortality rate.
Heat stroke is very rare, and also avoidable — but can be deadly if it’s missed in someone. Signs and symptoms of heat stroke, when body temperature can exceed 104 degrees, include confusion, delirium and even seizures.
The very young and people aged 70 or older are most likely to experience it because their blood vessels may not dilate well enough to keep their bodies cool.
Babies and toddlers can’t ask for help and the elderly may not necessarily be able to alert others about what’s happening. Be sure to check on the elderly and, if possible, make sure their homes aren’t too hot.
Keep children hydrated
Stephen Reville, MD, Physician Executive of Pediatric Care for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, says 90 degrees may not seem hot to people in warmer parts of the country, but it’s easy to be caught off guard by a heat wave in the Pacific Northwest.
“The biggest concern with heat-related injury isn’t about the sun,” Dr. Reville says. “Heat-related injuries really are complications of dehydration.”
He says drinking water is the obvious best defense. Parents must remember to keep their children properly hydrated.
“A child can be at risk in 20 to 30 minutes if not hydrated; if hydrated, kids can play in the heat for hours,” he says.
And, of course, never leave your child or pet in a car, where it can take just 10 minutes to reach deadly temperatures on a hot day.
Watch for signs and symptoms
Common symptoms of dehydration include feeling thirsty, dizzy, fatigued and nauseous. Dark urine or no urine are also signs.
If a child is experiencing these symptoms, move to the shade, ask the child to lie down and give them cool water to drink.
If the child has a temperature of more than 103 degrees and doesn’t make sense when she talks, call your health care provider immediately. At the hospital or urgent care clinic, care teams will treat heat-related injury with fluids and gradually cool the body.
Where to go
If hot days really bother you, consider heading to the coast, where marine air brings temperatures down.
City spray parks are another option, but Dr. Reville reminds families to drink plenty of liquids even when playing in the water.
“Playing in the water is good but not the same as drinking water,” he says. “You lose fluid faster running around in a field versus swimming in a pool. But you still have to drink water.”
- Be extra cognizant of babies, kids, the elderly and pets
- Respect your thirst — cold water is best
- Stay in a cool environment
- Avoid excessive exercise
- Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine intake
- Don’t leave children or pets unattended in a car, even with windows cracked
This story was originally published in July 2014 and updated in July 2018.