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Heat Advisory Safety Tips for Your Family and Pets

By Susan Larson. File photo from

Update: Monday, July 25
A heat advisory is in effect for the entire region from 12 – 8 p.m. for heat index values over 105 degrees.

A heat advisory is in effect for the Fredericksburg region over the next several days, according to the National Weather Service.

The combination of temperatures in the mid to upper 90s and humidity will cause the heat index to reach 105 degrees during the day Saturday, July 23, through Monday, July 25, 2016.

Heat can cause harmful health effects by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme conditions, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. “Staying cool, hydrated and informed can save lives,” Rappahannock Area Health District staff said.

Protect Yourself from Heat-Related Illnesses
The Virginia Department of Health suggests these steps to protect yourself and others against heat-related illnesses:
– Keep cool in an air-conditioned area. Take a cool shower or a bath. Consider a trip to the mall or a local library or visit a friend with air conditioning. Spending at least two hours per day in air conditioning significantly reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses. When temperatures reach the upper 90s or above, a fan may not prevent heat-related illness.

– Drink plenty of fluids (2-4 glasses of cool fluids each hour.) To replace salt and minerals lost from sweating, drink fruit juice or a sports beverage during exercise or when you have to work outside. However, talk to your doctor first if you’re on a fluid-restricted diet or medications, or on a low-salt diet.

– Avoid sunburn and wear light clothing. Sunburn limits your body’s ability to keep itself cool and causes loss of body fluids. Use sunscreen with a high SPF. Lighter-weight clothing that is loose fitting and light colored is more comfortable during extreme temperatures. Use a hat to keep the head cool.

– Use the “buddy system” if you’re working outside. If you’re working outside and suffer a heat-related illness, you could become confused or could lose consciousness. Therefore, make sure someone else knows of your plans.

– Schedule or reschedule activities and outdoor work for the coolest parts of the day. In the summer, sunlight exposure is greatest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Most Vulnerable
Those most at risk are the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, low income individuals, and people with a chronic medical condition, especially if they are not in an air-conditioned environment. If you know someone in this situation, check on them to see how they are doing during periods of excessive heat.

Don’t Leave Children in Hot Cars
“On average, 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside motor vehicles,” according to “Even the best of parents or caregivers can unknowingly leave a sleeping baby in a car; and the end result can be injury or even death.”

Here are some tips for remembering your child:
– Put your purse, briefcase or whatever you must take out of the car with you next to the child—not in the front seat with you.

– Situate a mirror in the backseat so you can see children easily who are still small enough to be in rear-facing child seats.

– “Look Before You Lock” – make it a habit of opening the back door and looking inside every single time you get out of your car, even if you think you’re sure you don’t have a child with you.

– Put a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied, and move the stuffed animal to the front seat when the child is in the car seat. The stuffed animal will serve as a visual reminder in the front seat with you.

– Make sure your child’s daycare center or babysitter calls you if your child does not show up as scheduled.

Heat and Pets
Pets should not be left outside or in cars on hot, humid days. Even with shade and water, pets, like people, can overheat.

Law enforcement offer these tips:
– Never leave pets in a parked car. On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels.

– Shade and water are vital to pets. Pet owners must provide adequate shelter protecting animals from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, direct sunlight, and adverse effects of heat or cold. A dog house in the backyard with no access to shade does not protect animals from sun.

– Limit exercise on hot days. Take care to adjust intensity and duration of exercise. Watch for shortness of breath and remember that asphalt gets very hot and can burn paws; walk your dog on the grass if possible.

– Recognize the symptoms of heatstroke. If your pet shows signs such as heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, fever, dizziness, restlessness, excessive thirst and profuse salivation, contact your veterinarian immediately. Take steps to reduce the animal’s body temperature; apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck and chest, provide water and ice cubes for hydration, and move the animal into the shade or air-conditioning.

Tips for Preventing Heat Related Illness

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