Excessive Heat alerts: Here are some tips to keep you, your pets safe

Excessive Heat Watches and Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service when dangerously hot conditions are expected with high heat indexes.

With safety in mind, the American Red Cross and the Humane Society of Greater Dayton offer the following tips for you, your family and your pets.

The Red Cross advises that you:

  • Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The temperature in a vehicle can quickly reach 120 degrees.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks containing caffeine or alcohol.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors as they absorb the sun's rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Go to public spaces for relief if you don't have air conditioning.

To ensure pets don’t suffer during the heatwave, the Humane Society of Greater Dayton advises you to:

  • Make sure there is fresh drinking water available, especially after a long walk or car ride.
  • Watch for sunburn. Apply pet-friendly sunblock on your pet's unprotected areas, such as their nose and ears.
  • Provide shade. If you don't have trees available, you will need to provide some sort of shelter for them to relax in a cooler place.
  • Try to avoid exercising your pet at high noon, when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Keep them out of your vehicle, because the temperature inside a vehicle can progress from normal to severe in minutes. It is not safe to leave your pets in the car -- even with the windows cracked. If you see a pet in a parked car or truck, dial 9-1-1.
  • Keep temperatures at home regulated. In summer, make sure to keep your home at a decent temperature. Use air conditioners, fans or allow your pets access to cooler rooms such as your basement.
  • Make sure birds or other small animals kept in cages are out of direct sunlight.
  • Look for signs of heat stroke, which include heavy panting and the inability to calm down, brick red gum color, fast pulse and the inability to get up.

If you suspect your pet is suffering heat stroke, follow these steps:

  • Take your pet's temperature rectally.
  • If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using a water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees.
  • Bring your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.

The Red Cross also offers a Cat and Dog First Aid online course on its website.

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