With sweltering temperatures on the horizon, Wake County reminds residents to take precaution to prevent heat related emergencies. The County is committed to keeping residents safe.
Children and Vehicles Parents and caregivers should never leave children alone in a vehicle, or even allow children to play in an unattended vehicle. On warm days, vehicles can quickly reach fatal temperatures. The following tips can be helpful to parents and caregivers:
· Take Immediate Action: Anyone who sees an unattended child in a car should immediately call 9-1-1. The body temperature of children rises three to five times faster than adults, and as a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. Trained EMS professionals can determine if a child is in trouble.
· Lock Cars and Trunks: Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle. If a child is missing, check vehicles and trunks first.
· Create Reminders: Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without the child. To help prevent these tragedies parents or caregivers can place an item such as a cell phone, purse or gym bag on the floor in front of a child in a back seat. This will help parents or caregivers see the child when they open the rear door and reach for their belongings.
Heat Related Illness Wake County encourages people to protect themselves by taking simple precautions:
· Drink plenty of fluids.
· Stay indoors if at all possible.
· Limit outdoor activities to early morning or evening to avoid the hottest part of the day. Anyone, including those in good physical shape and those who are accustomed to the heat, can be affected by heat related illnesses.
Everyone should be aware of these signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses.
· Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscle spasms that usually affect the arms, legs or stomach. Heat cramps are caused when a person cannot replenish salt and potassium lost through heavy sweating. Drink electrolyte rich sports drinks, and eat more potassium-rich fruits such as bananas, to prevent heat cramps.
· Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion occurs when fluids in the body are not adequately replaced. Symptoms include headache, heavy sweating, intense thirst, dizziness, fatigue, loss of coordination, nausea, impaired judgment, loss of appetite, hyperventilation, tingling of the hands or feet, anxiety, cool moist skin, weak and rapid pulse (120–200), and low to normal blood pressure.
· Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening illness. It occurs when the body has depleted its supply of water and salt. Heat stroke is sometimes mistaken for heart attack. It is therefore important to recognize the symptoms of heat stroke and to check for them anytime someone collapses in a hot environment.
o The early symptoms of heat stroke include body temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, hot red or flushed dry skin, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, constricted pupils, bizarre behavior and high blood pressure. Advanced symptoms include seizure, convulsions, collapse, loss of consciousness and a body temperature over 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone you know needs medical assistance.
White Flag Network
Wake County offers a White Flag Network to allow the homeless access to air-conditioned facilities. A white flag will be displayed outside of participating facilities when the heat index is more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, indicating that the facility is open. The following facilities participate in the program:
· Men only South Wilmington Street Center 1420 S. Wilmington Street, Raleigh 919-857-9428
· Women and children Women’s Center of Wake County 112 Cox Avenue, Raleigh 919-829-3711
Several other area non-profits, such as the Helen Wright Center for Women and the Salvation Army, offer assistance to the homeless during high temperatures.
Pets and the Heat
During the summer, high temperatures and humidity can be hazardous to the health of cats, dogs and other household pets. Because pets cannot sweat to cool themselves down, panting assists them in maintaining a normal body temperature. Pets need a cool place to stay when the summer temperatures soar, along with access to cool, clean water.
If a pet experiences heat stroke, remove it from heat and increase ventilation. Apply cool water compresses to the pet. Do not use ice because it can cause blood vessels to constrict and decrease the pet’s ability to cool down. Offer water to the pet, but do not force the pet to drink. Seek help from a veterinarian immediately.
The Wake County Animal Care, Control and Adoption Center offers the following tips to protect pets this summer:
- · Vehicles: When running errands leave pets at home. Even if a vehicle is parked in the shade with the windows open, temperatures can reach 120 degrees or higher inside the vehicle.
- · Beach and Pool: Provide ample shade for pets and rinse dogs after being in salt water. While at the pool, beware that chlorinated water irritates pets’ eyes, and heat and sunlight around a pool are intense. Never leave a pet unattended around a pool. Once in, a dog may not be able to get out without help and may panic and drown. Protect pets’ feet from blisters caused by the hot sand or pavement.
- · Ticks and Fleas: Carefully go over a pet’s body at least once a week to check for fleas, ear mites and tiny bumps or cuts. If anything looks unusual, call or visit a veterinarian.
- · Travel: When planning to take a pet on a long car trip, take them on several short trips first. Have pets ride completely inside vehicles to prevent injuries. Keep pets hydrated and take frequent breaks. Make sure pets are secured to a leash or are in a carrier and that they have a secured tag with updated contact information.
- · Exercise: Dogs are naturally designed for sprinting, not for uninterrupted running or jogging. During such exercise, the body temperature rises faster than excess heat can be dissipated. In the summer, exercise of any kind should be cut back and limited to the early morning or later evening hours.
For information on pets and year-round pet safety, visit wakegov.com/pets.
Cool for Wake
Senior citizens who are unable to cool their homes during extreme heat conditions may qualify for Wake County’s Cool for Wake program. Cool for Wake will provide free fans to qualified individuals through Saturday, September 1, 2012. Cool for Wake also accepts donations of new window unit air conditioners as well as monetary contributions. Donations should be directed to the Community Resources office on the first floor of the Wake County Human Services Swinburne Building, 220 Swinburne St., Raleigh. Monetary donations are tax deductible. For information on how to qualify for, or to donate to Cool for Wake, call 919-212-7083, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.