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Don’t let the heat beat you down

As temperatures in Fort Worth approach triple digits for the next week or so, it’s vital to protect yourself, your pets and your landscape. Here’s how:

People

While longer days and warmer weather make more time outdoors appealing, prolonged or intense exposure to high temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Heatstroke is a life-threatening problem that occurs when the body suffers from long, intense exposure to heat and loses its ability to cool itself. Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature and body temperature continues to rise.

Signs of heat exhaustion include flu-like symptoms such as paleness, sweating, nausea and vomiting.

Untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke suddenly and cause unconsciousness within minutes. Some of the most common signs of heatstroke include confusion; vomiting; hot, flushed, dry skin; rapid heart rate; decreased sweating; shortness of breath; decreased urination; increased body temperature (104-106 degrees Fahrenheit); or convulsions.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know starts experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911.

While heatstroke and heat exhaustion are common this time of year, they can be easily prevented.

Hydrate. Drink plenty of water during the day, especially if you are engaged in any strenuous activity. Sports drinks are a good choice if you’re exercising or working in hot conditions, but water is a good way to hydrate too.

Ventilate. Stay in a place where there is plenty of air circulating to keep your body cool. If you are indoors and don’t have access to air conditioning, open windows and use a fan.

Cover up. Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing to avoid absorbing the sun’s light and trapping heat. Wear a hat to shield yourself from the sun, but once you feel yourself getting warm, remove any items covering your head, which can trap heat close to your body.

Limit activity. Heatstroke can occur in less than an hour when you are participating in strenuous activity during a hot day. If you feel yourself getting hot or light-headed, stop your activity and rest in a cool place out of the sun. Be sure to drink water or a sports drink before, during and after any strenuous activity.

Check on loved ones. The elderly are especially vulnerable to heat-related emergencies. Many elderly residents are not aware of how hot it may get in their residence. Call on older friends and family members regularly to assure they are doing OK.

Don’t leave kids in hot cars. Every summer, police, fire departments and MedStar respond to calls where a child is left in a hot car. Too often, these calls end in tragedy. Do not leave children unattended in cars, and be sure your vehicles are secured to prevent a curious child from becoming trapped in the car on a hot day.

Pets

Fort Worth’s Animal Care and Control Division urges residents to take note of these important hot weather tips to keep pets healthy:

  • Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle, even if windows are partially opened, as it can become like a furnace within 15 minutes. Temperatures can range from 131-172 degrees.
  • Dogs and cats need cool, shady places during the hot weather with plenty of clean, fresh water accessible at all times.
  • Feed animals in the cooler hours of the day.
  • Protect your dog’s paws from getting burned on hot pavement; walk your dog on grass or other cooler surfaces. Dogs’ paws can burn easily.
  • Heatstroke is life-threatening for dogs and cats. Signs to watch for are heavy or loud breathing, a staggering walk or a bright red tongue.

To report animals that may be in distressed situations, call 817-392-1234.

Plants

The onset of summer temperatures is a good time to review watering days:

  • Residential addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6 or 8) may water on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • Residential addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9) may water on Thursdays and Sundays.
  • Nonresidential sites can water on Tuesdays and Fridays. This includes apartment complexes, common areas maintained by homeowners or neighborhood associations, businesses, industrial sites, parks and medians.
  • No watering on Mondays.

Although the water restrictions allow for watering twice a week, it’s not always necessary to water that often. Water use can increase up to 45 percent during periods of hot weather, so it is important to conserve and water plants only when needed. Watering on just one of the two days may suffice to keep landscapes healthy and hydrated.

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