How to Keep Your Family Safe During a Heat Wave
While it’s very rare for extreme heat events to affect the Pacific Northwest, especially as far north as Whatcom County, we know they can happen. We were recently reminded of this reality at the end of June and early July with three days of record-breaking heat. Sadly, the Washington State Department of Health reports that during the extreme weather event, one person died in Whatcom County and a total of 91 people died across the State of Washington. The last time we saw temperatures at these levels was in 2009, but scientists expect extreme heat events to become more common in the coming years.
For most people who live in a home without air conditioning, an extreme heat wave is very uncomfortable but not deadly. There are groups of people who are more vulnerable when exposed to very high temperatures, including:
- Infants and kids up to four years of age
- People who are obese
- People who are suffering from chronic illnesses or who are taking certain medications
Keeping your Family Safe during a Heat Wave
There are measures we can take to prevent tragic accidents from heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion.
These safety tips from redcross.org are a great place to start:
- Cars are extremely dangerous during heat waves because inside temperatures can soar in as little as a few minutes. NEVER leave any person or pet – but especially pets, infants, children, or people with disabilities – in a car without air conditioning running on a warm or hot day. Cracking a window open is not enough on a very hot day.
- Keep yourself and your kids hydrated. Cool, non-alcoholic, non-sugary, and non-caffeinated drinks are best during a heat wave. Water is ideal but sports drinks or coconut water are also important as they can help replace the mineral salts we lose from sweating. Speak to your doctor about the amount of water that is safe for you to drink if you have been asked to limit water intake or take water pills. You should also speak to your doctor before consuming sports drinks if you have diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic illnesses that affect the amount of salt intake that is safe for your body.
- Keep your pets hydrated. Make sure to provide cool, fresh drinking water for your pets during a heat wave.
- Do everything possible to keep yourself cool.
- If you have access to an air-conditioned space, spend as much time there as possible.
- Setup window or portable air-conditioning units in your most used room if you own them.
- Shut out the heat with blackout curtains or with a slab of cardboard with tin foil on the backside to refract the light.
- Avoid regular fans if your indoor space is above 96 degrees.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing.
- Avoid using your stove or oven, if possible.
- Avoid activities that raise body temperature such as exercise or yard work.
- Wear a hat and sunscreen and stick to shady areas, if possible, if you venture outdoors.
- If you have elderly or ill neighbors, friends, or loved ones, check in on them at least twice a day to make sure they are doing okay. Encourage them to drink cold water or sports drinks and to take cool showers as needed. Offer to take them to a place that has air conditioning if they do not have it at home. If they do not sound like themselves or tell you that they aren’t feeling well or are experiencing any combination of the symptoms of heat stress discussed below, it may be time to call an ambulance.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion
According to cdc.gov, these are the symptoms of heat exhaustion to watch out for:
- Heavy sweating
- Elevated body temperature
Seek the help of a personal injury attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!