How to stay cool and safe as temperatures get hot and dangerous
As the Valley gets deeper into an early sweltering summer, one needs to know how to stay safe and cool.
All around the Valley, weather officials are forecasting the weekend temperatures of June 29-30 to rise as high as 116 to 118 degrees, and with that should come a lot of caution and limiting your time outdoors in order to best protect yourself from heat exhaustion or a heat stroke.
According to the National Weather Service, the Phoenix area averages 110 days of temperatures above 100 degrees, and seniors, children and animals are especially vulnerable to the heat.
First, stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Heed your body’s warnings if you do work outdoors. Keep an eye on young children and neighbors, especially if they are elderly.
The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) also has partnered with non-profit organizations, the faith-based community, cities and towns in the region and others to form the Heat Relief Network and to provide heat relief maps.
Two maps have been created to indicate resources available in the community and are available on the organization’s website, www.azmag.gov.
The collection map provides regional locations that are collecting bottled water and other donations such as clothing, unopened sun block, and food items for those who are in need. The hydration and refuge map indicates regional locations that people can go to for water, refuge or both.
For additional information on regional heat relief efforts, please contact Brande Mead at MAG’s office in Phoenix, (602) 452-5060.
Some tips to staying safe and cool:
Reduce your activities immediately and get into a cooler environment.
Avoid thermal shock. Acclimatize yourself gradually to warmer weather. Take it extra easy for the first two or three hot days.
Stay hydrated. Drink before you're thirsty and drink often. Make sure you drink plenty of water before an activity, during and after.
Avoid "heat hangover." Continue to drink fluids even after strenuous activity. This will enable the body to maintain optimum hydration, and help prevent the after effects of heat exposure such as headaches and fatigue.
Wear a hat. Keep your head and neck covered. The greatest amount of heat loss from the body occurs at the head. This is why it is important to wear a hat in the sun. Always wear light colored and lightweight clothing too.
Be aware of pets: Keep an eye on pets that often stay outdoors by making sure they have plenty of cool water and shade and bring them inside whenever possible.
Avoid alcohol. Drinking beer, wine and liquor will speed up dehydration and can double the risks you face from the heat. Also avoid caffeine or large amounts of sugar. Those will dehydrate the body as well.
Check on your neighbor. Try doing this several times a day. This is especially important if they're older, in poor health or live alone.
Take extra care of young children. Children are most susceptible to heat injury if they're 18 months or younger.
Eat light meals. Foods like proteins, that increase metabolic heat production, also increase water loss. A full stomach may lead to cramps.
Limit outdoor activity. Avoid outdoor activity between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its peak intensity. If you have to be active during this time frame, drink a MINIMUM of 16 to 32 ounces of water EVERY HOUR.
Take advantage of air conditioning: Take advantage of shopping malls, movie theaters or the library to escape the heat for a few hours.
Source: Arizona Department of Health Services