Keeping you and your pets safe as summer sizzle sets in

PORTLAND, Ore. - Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are the two most common heat-related illnesses we hear about when the weather heats up.

Both are brought on by overexposure to hot temperatures. It doesn't matter if you're playing sports or working in a hot environment - too much heat can trigger one of these illnesses.

Dr. Ritu Sahni with Providence Portland says there are two groups of people who are more susceptible to heat stroke than others.

"Generally, people who have more chronic illnesses who are older or who are very young just have poorer coping skills or coping mechanisms in their body. So they're more apt to get heatstroke or heat exhaustion," he said.

He says if you realize you or someone else is dizzy, feeling confused, slurring words or speaking oddly and not sweating, get to the emergency room immediately.

Staying hydrated is still important. Heatstroke is very dangerous because it affects the whole brain.

Staying Cool

At Grant Park on Friday the kids were running through the fountain while their moms looked on from the shade.

The Curtis family found some smart ways to stay cool and healthy Friday. Darlene Curtis has her two grandsons staying with her for the next month from Colorado. She's come up with activities she calls "Granny Camp." They are her simple ideas to keep all of them safe from the heat.

"We carry water in a water bottle and try to limit the time in the direct sun. And kinda mix things up. We like to ride the MAX and bus instead of walking. They're nice and cool, actually," she said

She also says they're spending a lot of time in the local parks.

Dangers for pets

The heat can also be very bad for your pets. You should never lock them in the car, even for a short trip into a store or wherever you're headed.

Animal services officers got several 9-1-1 calls Friday about animals locked in hot cars. Most times folks just don't remember or don't realize how hot it gets inside the car. They make the mistake of cracking the windows and leaving their dog for a few minutes to run some errands. Even parking in the shade doesn't cut it.

Your pet can't sweat. One of the officers compared it to a person wearing a coat and a scarf and sitting in that same heat.

The most common places animal services officers find pets in overheating cars are the zoo, shopping malls and places like OMSI. People bring their pet and forget they can't come inside. So the only option besides going home is leaving the animal inside.

Unique way to keep cool

It almost sounds counterintuitive, but eating spicy food makes you sweat and that kicks in your body's natural air conditioning.

Jim Wilson, who runs a New Mexico cuisine food cart in Portland, says the true heat people are after is the hot chilies in the food.

"It makes you swat, releases endorphins (and) makes you feel better," he said.

He says if you think about it, it's logical.

"The regions of the world where chili comes from, what's the temperature? Usually hot. So you're thinking Mexico, Asia. All those places are warm and as a result people eat a lot of hot food."

Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 80s and low 90s through the weekend and into early next week.

Here's some more tips:

Staying cool

Fire prevention

  • Dispose of cigarettes properly in non-combustible ashtrays or extinguish them in water or sand. In Oregon, cigarettes start one in ten fires statewide.
  • When using barbeque grills, maintain clearance from combustible decks, fences, and vegetation. Allow ashes to completely cool and then dispose of them in metal containers. Barbeque ashes can maintain ignition temperatures for many hours, even if the surface is cool to touch.
  • Avoid using welding, grinding, or mowing equipment near dry weeds and grass.
  • Avoid parking vehicles in dry, weedy areas. The temperature of vehicle exhaust components can easily ignite dry grass and weeds.
  • Don't overload electrical outlets with portable fans, air conditioners, or extension cords.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher, water hose, or bucket handy in the event a fire occurs.
  • Observe no-burn regulations.
  • Use only legal fireworks and maintain safe distances from combustibles. Follow the "4-B's" of fireworks safety (Be Prepared, Be Responsible, Be Safe, Be Aware).

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