Safety tips for avoiding heat stroke, exhaustion in East Texas summer sun

Hot weather continues into the weekend. Isolated rain finally returns on Sunday!!
Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 5:40 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The intense heat of Texas in the summertime can become dangerous without taking proper precautions. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the heat, but adults and our pets are at risk, too.

Here are common-sense tips that will help keep yourself and those you love safe.

Heat safety for children

  • Never leave infants or children in a parked car, even if the windows are open.
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. This goes for adults, too.
  • Make sure they’re drinking plenty of fluids. Stay away from really cold drinks or drinks with too much sugar.
  • NEVER leave kids in a parked car, even with windows cracked open. Even when it is cool outside, a car or truck can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly and put children (and pets) at risk for heat stroke and even death. The Centers for Disease Control says leaving a window open is not enough- temperatures inside the car can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes, even with a window cracked open.
  • To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver. Seeing the stuffed animal will trigger even the most distracted driver.
  • Give them a cool bath or spray them with a water mist, suggests the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Run their wrists and ankles under cold water. Wipe their heads with a wet towel. If you have a place to swim, bring them, taking care to stay out of the full sun between noon and 4 p.m.

Heat safety for everyone

  • Seek out air conditioning or shade as frequently as possible. If possible, stay inside during the hottest part of the day, whether in your own cooled house or at a cooling center offered by some organizations, such as the Salvation Army.
  • Exercise inside or very early in the morning. According to Houston Methodist, evening workouts outside are not as safe as early morning workouts, as the heat doesn’t drop as quickly as one might think after sundown during a heat wave.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages: Alcohol can impair your body’s ability to regulate your temperature; the CDC says that drinking alcohol within 24 hours of a workout or of working outside in the heat can increase the risk of heat illness.
  • Use sweat-resistant UVA/UVB sunscreen
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.
  • Avoid hot, heavy meals, as they add heat to your body.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Sip all day long on water. You can use sports drinks as long as you’re not on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions. Always ask your doctor first!
  • For pets, keep plenty of water available to them all day and night. If the water is outside, keep it in a shady spot the pet can reach. Check throughout the day to make sure the bowl isn’t empty or knocked over. And again, never leave them in a parked car, even with the windows cracked.

During times of extreme heat, anyone who is outside and active during the day is at risk for overheating to the point of developing heat illness.

According to the CDC, heat exhaustion can involve symptoms such as:

  • Weakness
  • Cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fainting

Check out the graphic below for other signs you or someone you’re with may be suffering a dangerous heat-related illness:

The Centers For Disease Control shares a helpful graphic to help you recognize the signs of...
The Centers For Disease Control shares a helpful graphic to help you recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses.(Centers for Disease Control website)

If you or someone you love is showing signs of heat stroke, call 911 immediately.

The most common symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • A body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, as measured by a rectal thermometer
  • Sudden confusion or hallucinations
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Fainting