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Keeping Cool and Safe During a Heatwave

With high temperatures expected in the Puget Sound area Monday through Wednesday evening (Aug. 14–16), an excessive heat warning has been issued by the National Weather Service.   

Stay Cool

Experts advise to stay indoors in air conditioning, if possible. Keep windows and doors closed if you are using air conditioning. Draw curtains and close blinds to keep indoor temperatures down. 

If you are without air conditioning, King County is opening cooling centers, including select King County Public Libraries. Other ideas to beat the heat include going to the movies, the mall, or taking a shower to cool down. 

If you must be outside, limit the time you spend in the direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and apply sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours when outdoors and every time after swimming. For extra protection, wear sunglasses, hats and lightweight/UV-protective clothing. 

Stay Hydrated

It’s extremely important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Dehydration, especially for sensitive populations, such as young children and older people, is a risk of not drinking enough fluids. If left untreated, it can pose a serious threat to your health. To calculate how many ounces of water you need each day, divide your body weight by two. Stick to beverages without alcohol, caffeine and sugar. 

Symptoms for mild to moderate dehydration include:

  • Dry, sticky mouth.
  • Sleepiness or tiredness.
  • Thirst.
  • Decreased urine output.
  • Few or no tears.
  • Dry skin.
  • Headache.
  • Constipation.
  • Dizziness or light-headedness.

You can usually treat mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids. But if severe signs and symptoms occur, such as extreme thirst, a lack of urination, shriveled skin, dizziness or confusion, please get medical care immediately.

Heat-related Illness

In addition to dehydration, other heat-related illnesses that pose potential danger include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rash and sunburn. Depending on the illness and severity, symptoms range can from dizziness, headache and nausea to confusion, muscle cramps or even fainting. If resting in a cool place does not bring relief, or if symptoms get worse, be sure to seek immediate medical attention or call 911. 

Other Heat Safety Tips

Check in with elderly friends and family members who are at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses. They may need your help to stay cool and hydrated.

As tempting as it is to jump in a lake or river, it’s advised to practice water safety precautions, including getting into the water slowly, wearing a life preserver and not consuming alcohol while engaging in water sports.

It is very important to never leave pets or people in parked cars. Call 911 if you see a pet or child in a hot car.

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