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The Nashville Fire Department Urges Heat Safety Awareness

Joseph Pleasant; Public Information Officer

Heat Index expected to reach 105 degrees causing serious danger to children, older adults and pets.

The Nashville Fire Department and Nashville Office of Emergency Management are urging everyone to take necessary safety steps during expected high temperatures on Monday and Tuesday.

The National Weather Service forecasts highs around 96 degrees on Monday and 97 degrees on Tuesday. However, the heat index is expected to approach 105 degrees.

The heat index measures the level of discomfort the average person experiences as a result of the combined effects of the temperature and the humidity in the air.

Such dangerously high temperatures could quickly cause heat stroke or heat exhaustion, especially in vulnerable people including children and older adults.

You should take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, stay in air conditioning when possible and limit exposure to the sun.

Also, please check on relatives, neighbors and the elderly.

Young children and pets should NEVER be left unattended in vehicles as car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.

The National Safety Council found in 2018 a record number of children died in hot cars. In 2018, 52 children died in hot cars, which is the most in 20 years.

Safe Kids Worldwide suggests these five recommendations:

  • Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute or if the car is running.
  • 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.