With temperatures expected to hit 110 degrees Saturday, June 12, and as high as 117 degrees throughout the coming week, the Salvation Army is activating emergency heat relief stations around the Valley, and health officials are advising residents to look out for themselves and their neighbors.
Salvation Army’s closest cooling center to Goodyear and Litchfield Park is the Estrella Mountain Corps at 11 N. Third Ave., Avondale.
The county branch libraries in both communities are on the Maricopa Association of Governments’ interactive heat relief regional network map. Neither location allows pets.
Goodyear Branch Library, 14455 W. Van Buren St., Suite C-101, is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Litchfield Park Branch Library, 101 W. Wigwam Blvd., is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed Sundays.
INTERACTIVE MAP: Maricopa Association of Governments Heat Relief Regional Network
Maricopa County confirmed its first heat-related death May 13, and 17 cases are under investigation, according to the county’s website, maricopa.gov.
Residents who have to be out in the heat are urged to take proper precautions to avoid heat-related illness, but what are those precautions? Maricopa County Public Health maintains a cadre of information on heat-related illness at heataz.org.
Here’s what all Arizonans should know before venturing out:
People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs, the website states.
Everyone is at risk for heat-related illness, no matter how fit and how hydrated. Children, the elderly and animals are considered extremely susceptible to the heat, per the website. Other high-risk populations include the homeless, those who are ill and on medication that increases susceptibility to sun and heat, substance abusers, those who are overweight and anyone who works outdoors. Be sure to check in with family, friends and neighbors to ensure they’re faring well in the heat and if they aren’t, step in and help.
The website details four types of heat-related illness: heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash.
Heat stroke, the most serious heat-related illness, occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature, the website states. Body temperature rises rapidly to 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) or higher within 10 to 15 minutes, the sweating mechanism fails and the person cannot cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
Warning signs of heat stroke can vary, but may include an extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees); confusion; dizziness; nausea; rapid, strong pulse; red, hot and dry skin with no sweating; throbbing headache or unconsciousness.
If someone exhibits heat stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance while cooling the victim. The county website recommends:
• Get the victim to a shady area;
• Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods are available like immersing them in a tub of cool water, placing them in a cool shower, spraying them with cool water from a garden hose, sponging them with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrapping them in a cool, wet sheet and fan them her vigorously;
• Monitor their body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101 to 102 degrees;
• Call a hospital emergency room for further instructions if rescue personnel are delayed;
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink; and
• Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids, according to county Public Health officials.
Those most prone to heat exhaustion are the elderly, people with high blood pressure and those working or exercising in a hot environment.
Warning signs of heat exhaustion may vary but include: heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting.
The skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke.
The county website advises seeking medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.
What to do if you experience symptoms of heat exhaustion:
• Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages;
• Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath;
• Seek an air-conditioned environment; and
• Wear light-weight clothing.
Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms, usually in the abdomen, arms or legs, that may occur in association with strenuous activity. People who sweat a lot during strenuous activity are prone to heat cramps, the website states.
Sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture and when salt levels drop too low, painful cramps can occur. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.
Those with heart problems or who are on a low-sodium diet, should seek medical attention for heat cramps, Public Health advises.
If medical attention is not necessary, the person suffering heat cramps should:
• Stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place; and
• Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
• The county advises against returning to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside, because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If heat cramps do not subside in one hour, medical attention should be sought.
Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather, according the website. It can occur at any age but is most common in young children.
It looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters and is most likely to occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin, under the breasts and in elbow creases.
The best treatment is to provide a cooler, less humid environment and to keep the affected area dry, the website states. Dusting powder may be used to increase comfort.
Staying hydrated is key to heat safety, and the county website recommends sticking with water and drinking even if you’re not thirsty. Some other tips include:
• Continue to drink fluids even after strenuous activity to enable the body to maintain optimum hydration and help prevent the after-effects of heat exposure such as headaches and fatigue;
• Avoid drinking liquids with large amounts of sugar, alcohol or caffeine products as they may contribute to dehydration;
• Avoid very cold beverages as they cause stomach cramps;
• Do not take salt tablets unless directed by a doctor; heavy sweating removes necessary salt and minerals from the body; and
• Consult your physician if you are taking prescription and over-the-counter medications and aren’t sure if they increase the risk of heat-related illness.
If you absolutely must work outside, county Public Health advises confining work to early morning hours if possible, wearing proper clothing (see below), taking frequent breaks, covering your head, drinking plenty of water and applying SPF 15 or higher sunscreen at least 30 minutes before venturing outside and reapplying frequently.
If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, stop all activity, the website states. Get into a cool area or at least in the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak or faint.
Electric fans may provide comfort when it’s hot, but when the temperatures hit the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness, the county website states.
To stay cool, take frequent cool baths or showers, but do not to shower immediately after becoming overheated. Doing so can result in cooling down too quickly, causing you to feel ill or dizzy, the website states.
If your home isn’t air-conditioned, the county recommends finding a place to go that is air-conditioned.
Adults and children should wear the proper clothing outdoors to minimize the impacts of the heat, including hats, sunglasses and shoes as well as light-weight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing, the county website notes.
Carry an umbrella if available to provide additional protection from the sun.
Indoors, wear as little clothing as possible.
Just like people, pets need proper shade, water and a cool place to rest. Many dog owners keep a kiddie pool in the shade to help their pets cool off in the summer.
The county’s tips for taking care of pets in extreme heat include:
• Never leave pets in a parked car. An animal’s body temperature can rise in just seconds, causing heat-related problems or even death. Normal body temperature for dogs and cats is between 101 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit;
• Always provide adequate shade for an animal that is staying outside of the house for any length of time;
• Ensure that pets’ water bowl never runs dry and cannot be tipped over, and ensure that all pets have unrestricted access to water and shade;
• Walk pets on cooler surfaces to protect their feet from burning. If the pavement is too hot for you to hold your hand on for more than a few seconds, it’s much too hot for your pet’s paws;
• When traveling with pets, carry a gallon container filled with fresh, cold water. Give pets frequent drinks; and if they begin to pant, give them water immediately.
Just like with pets, don’t leave children or those needing special care in parked cars when temperatures are high, even with the air-conditioning on, the county advises.
If the vehicle stalls or the air-conditioning is accidentally turned off, being stuck inside can turn dangerous quickly. Per the county website:
• 75% of the temperature rise occurs within five minutes of closing and leaving the car, or the air-conditioning being turned off;
• 90% of the temperature rise occurs within 15 minutes; and
• The temperature inside a hot vehicle typically rises about 20 degrees in the first 10 minutes and 30 degrees within 30 minutes, which means on a on a 70-degree day, the temperature can soar over 100 degrees inside a car within a half hour, and leaving the windows down does not help.
Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-963-1697.