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The Nashville Fire Department Urges Heat Safety Awareness

5/24/2018
Joseph Pleasant; Public Information Officer

As temperatures are expected to reach 90 degrees care for children, older adults and pets is critical.

The Nashville Fire Department is urging everyone to be mindful of the dangerous effects of high temperatures on vulnerable people including children and older adults. Temperatures over the Memorial Day weekend are expected to reach 90 degrees.

Incidents of heat related deaths begin to peak between Memorial Day and Labor Day, especially in regards to children. The National Safety Council found in 2017 that 42 children died in hot cars nationwide. That is more than all of the people killed by tornadoes nationwide in 2017.

Of those children who died:

  • 87% of children who die are 3 years old or younger
  • 54% are forgotten in a vehicle
  • 27% are playing in an unattended vehicle
  • 18% are intentionally left in a vehicle by an adult

Safe Kids Worldwide suggests these five recommendations:

  • Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute
  • Keep your car locked when you are not in it so kids don't gain access
  • Create reminders by putting something in the back seat next to your child, such as a briefcase, purse, cell phone or your left shoe
  • If you see a child alone in a car, call 911
  • Set a calendar reminder on your electronic device to make sure you dropped your child off at daycare; develop a plan so you will be alerted if your child is late or a no-show

Older adults are also vulnerable to heat-related health problems. People aged 65 years or older do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Older adults and their caregivers should remember these tips from the CDC:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling source when it’s really hot outside.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

If your doctor limits the amount of fluids you drink or has you on water pills, ask them how much you should drink during hot weather.

  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Do not engage in very strenuous activities and get plenty of rest.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.

You should also pay close attention to your pets during the hot and humid days ahead. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) you should know:

  • Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors.
  • Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
  • Know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.
  • Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
  • Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle.
  • When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

Metro Nashville’s Action Commission has programs available to help with energy assistance.