Experts Share Tips on Keeping Family, Pets Safe in Intense Summer Heat

Duluth Fire Officials and experts from Animal Allies weigh in on keeping pets and people hydrated and protected.

DULUTH, Minn.- Summer heat doesn’t last long in the Northland. While you enjoy it for the short time it’s here, experts say it’s important to do so safely.

The first few weeks of summer have been scorchers in the Northland, with temperatures this past week reaching 90 degrees for the first time since August 2018 and temps nearing 90 Fourth of July weekend.

“Particularly over a holiday weekend you’ve got a lot of people that are out and about and enjoying our beautiful area on the 4th of July, they’re not necessarily thinking about the things that they would be on a regular basis,” said Duluth Fire Captain Rob Morehouse.

While it’s nice to see families having fun in the sun, Capt. Morehouse advises people keep a watchful eye for signs of heat exhaustion.

“Some signs and symptoms could be either profuse sweating or a lack of sweating, when you get dry red skin, dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness,” the Captain said.

According to Morehouse, the Fire Department has mostly been responding to calls of dehydration and fatigue. But he says there are things you can do yourself outside when you’re feeling the heat.

“If you’re in an area that has water wet down your clothes and that way if you are not sweating anymore the damp clothes can act as sweat and help cool you down,” he said.

He adds that on days where the thermometer peaks at 90, an unattended car can become dangerous for the elderly, and especially kids, who have no way of finding their way out of a roasting car.

“If you’re running errands and you are going to shut that car off, we need to get the kids out of the car and into where the adults are,” the Captain said.

The same goes for pets. “If it’s too hot for you then it’s definitely too hot for your pet,” said Sarah Bezenar, Adoption Team Lead at Animal Allies Humane Society.

In a hot car, rolling down your windows isn’t enough. If you must, keep your pet in the car with the air conditioning blowing, and leave a note for anyone who may be concerned walking by.

“It’s great if you let anyone else know ‘I’m in a car, I have AC on, I have water, we’re good.’ Otherwise people are definitely going to be concerned seeing someone in a hot car on a hot day,” Bezenar said. She adds if you do find a dog left unsafely in car that’s turned off, contact the authorities right away.

And that wavy haze you sometimes see in the distance on hot days isn’t an illusion — that’s the hot ground. So, experts say, test the pavement yourself before your furry friend ventures out.

“Our biggest tip is: back of your hand, if you want to just touch that down to the pavement, concrete, and you want to be able to hold it three for at least 10 seconds,” said Bezenar. “If you find it’s too hot for you then it’s definitely too hot for pets’ paws.”

Dogs also show signs of heat exhaustion that appear outside or inside when there is no AC or cool fan, Bezenar said.  “Just keeping an eye on making sure that they aren’t getting overheated.”

“So looking for signs of being exhausted: if they’re vomiting, if they aren’t drinking water, these are all points when you’re going to want to contact your vet,” she said.

All in all when the sun’s beating down, experts say make sure you’re being alert for all members of your family — two and four-legged — and yourself.

“Pay attention to your body and pay attention to your relatives,” said Captain Morehouse. “You know your family better than anyone else does.”

“If somebody is not acting the way they normally do, that’s definitely a key indicator to get them into a cooler environment,” he said.

Some other heat safety tips include sleeping in a basement if you have one but don’t have air conditioning in your home.

When out in the sun, apply high SPF sunscreen every couple hours to make sure you don’t sweat or swim it off, and as always eat and drink regularly while making sure your pets do the same.

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