By Andrea Plaid
With temperatures reaching over 90 degrees in Michigan over the next several days, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is encouraging all residents to stay cool to beat the heat.
MDHHS routinely reviews emergency department (ED) data for heat-related illness. As daily temperatures rise above 80 degrees, ED visits for heat-related illness tend to increase. This is often more likely for the first high-heat event of the year as people are not as used to those kinds of temperatures and may not take the necessary precautions.
“It’s important Michiganders stay hydrated and understand the risks of excessive heat exposure during this warm weather,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Young children, older adults and those who have medical conditions are at increased risk for heat-related illness, so be sure to check frequently on them and others in your community who may need additional assistance.”
To Prevent Complications From the Heat, Residents are Encouraged to:
- Drink more fluids and avoid liquids with large amounts of sugar or alcohol.
- Limit outdoor activities to when it is coolest in the morning and evening.
- Spend time indoors in air conditioning at home or in a cooling center.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
- Wear sunscreen, as sunburn affects a body’s ability to cool down.
- Check on elderly neighbors and relatives to determine if they need assistance.
For those without access to air conditioning, text or call 211 or contact your local health department to find out if there is a cooling center nearby. You can also spend some time at an air-conditioned library, shopping mall or other public building – even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help.
In addition to staying hydrated and out of the sun, residents are reminded to never leave children or pets alone in a car even with windows cracked. Temperatures inside a car can easily be double the temperature outside, and because a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s they are more susceptible to heatstroke.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are both forms of heat-related illness. Signs of heat-related illness vary but may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting, an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F) and tiredness. Heatstroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature and can result in death if not treated promptly.
For more information about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from heat-related illness, see the MDHHS Heat Awareness and Safety Fact Sheet, also available in Spanish, Arabic, and Bengali, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
Relatedly, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding owners of some of the best ways to keep animals cool and safe.
“As we head into the summer months and temperatures rise, keeping animals cool and hydrated is essential,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “It’s important to recognize the signs of heat stress in animals and even more critical to prevent this stress from occurring. Michiganders can follow five easy steps to help keep animals cool and safe this summer.”
Keep Animals Safe From the Beat by Following These Tips:
- Provide unlimited cool clean, fresh water–Just like people, animals can quickly get parched in hot temperatures. No matter the species, animals should have access to unlimited cool, clean, fresh water to prevent dehydration.
- An animal’s ability to tolerate heat varies–An animal’s age, breed, type of coat, and health history can all play a role in their ability to tolerate the heat. Keep an eye on them for signs of heat stress—like increased panting or drooling and being more lethargic. If they are showing these signs, it is time to immediately move them to a cooler area.
Also, consider talking to your veterinarian. They will have a greater knowledge of your animal(s) and be able to give more specific guidance on how to best handle them in hot weather.
- Test surfaces to make sure they won’t burn paws–Surfaces like asphalt, concrete, and sand can really heat up in the sun, which can burn paws—or at least make a walk very uncomfortable. To test if a surface is too hot, touch it with the palm of your hand. If it is too hot for you, consider taking a different route that is mostly grass or waiting until the evening when everything has had a chance to cool.
- Parked vehicles are not places to park pets–Even when temperatures feel more moderate, vehicles can heat up very quickly, creating dangerous conditions for the animals left inside. Leaving windows cracked open and/or parking in the shade do little to improve the situation. In these conditions, it is best to leave pets at home when you need to go out and about.
- Make sure animals have a place to cool down–Animals know when they are too hot and will usually try to find a place where they can cool down. Make sure they have access to shade, fans, misters, pools, cooling mats, and/or air-conditioned spaces to help them stay comfortable.
Following these tips can help keep your animals cool and comfortable through any heat wave. If there are any concerns about your animals’ health either now or throughout the summer months, please talk to your veterinarian.