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How to Prepare for the Extreme Heat

A hot and humid air mass is expected to build into the region for the end of the work week.

Daytime high temperatures will reach the 90s both Thursday and Friday. When combined with dew points in the mid 70s, heat index values will top out in the 100s. Overnight lows will only cool into the middle 70s.

Those most at risk of heat related illnesses are small children, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. “Check in on family, friends and neighbors, especially those who may be at risk,” urged David Maack, Racine County Emergency Management Coordinator.

Racine County Emergency Management is recommending that people take the following precautions to “Beat the Heat”:

  1. Never leave children, disabled persons, or pets in a parked car – even briefly.  Temperatures in a car can become life threatening within minutes. On an 80-degree day with sunshine, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked slightly can rise 20 to 30 degrees above the outside temperature in 10 to 20 minutes. There have been cases where the inside temperature rose 40 degrees!
  2. Keep your living space cool.  Cover windows to keep the sun from shining in.  If you don’t have an air conditioner, open windows to let air circulate.  When it’s hotter than 95 degrees use fans to blow hot air out of the window rather than to blow hot air on your body.  Basements or ground floors are often cooler than upper floors.
  3. Slow down and limit physical activity.  Plan outings or exertion for the early morning or after dark when temperatures are cooler.
  4. Drink plenty of water and eat lightly.  Don’t wait for thirst, but instead drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Avoid alcohol or caffeine and stay away from hot, heavy meals. 
  5. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.  Add a hat or umbrella to keep your head cool…and don’t forget sunscreen!
  6. Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should.  Take extra care to stay cool and ask your doctor or pharmacist for any special heat advice.
  7. Taking a cool shower or bath will cool you down.  A shower or bath will actually work faster than an air conditioner.  Applying cold wet rags to the neck, head and limbs also cools down the body quickly.

Wisconsin’s humane veterinarian is reminding pet and livestock owners to take extra steps to protect animals in the extreme heat predicted later this week.

“Dogs and cats pant, they don’t perspire, and panting is not very effective in extreme hot weather,” says state humane veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Bellay of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “Give them ventilation and water, and keep them out of cars and airless rooms.”

Heat stroke is a very real threat for both pets and livestock, and can be fatal even with prompt treatment. Pets that have already suffered heat stroke once are more susceptible, as are animals that are very young or very old, have health problems, are overweight, or are snub-nosed.

Signs of heat stroke in small animals include panting, staring or stupor, breathing difficulty, an anxious expression, refusal to obey, warm dry skin, fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and collapse.

In large animals, signs of heat stress and stroke may include restlessness, stumbling, increased heart rate and salivation, panting, collapse, and convulsions.

“If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately,” Bellay says.

For pets, get the animal out of direct heat and get it wet however you can – with towels soaked in cool water, with a hose, in a wading pool. If you use towels, it will be most effective on less hairy parts of the body, like a dog’s belly and legs. Even if the animal seems to revive after a few minutes, get it to a veterinarian, because its temperature may rise again or fall well below normal, she says.

For cattle and other large animals, hosing them down may be effective until the veterinarian arrives.

  • Never leave an animal in a parked vehicle, even for a few minutes. Even with windows open a few inches, the temperature in a parked car may hit 120 degrees within minutes. When running errands, leave your dog home. When traveling, stop at places where your pet can get out of the vehicle.
  • Provide fresh, cool drinking water at all times – including in your vehicle when you’re traveling.
  • Outdoor kennels must be well-ventilated and shaded, with water in bowls that will not tip.
  • Don’t exercise pets on hot days or warm, humid nights.
  • Clip long coats to about an inch -- shorter clips or shaving can leave dogs vulnerable to sunburn.
  • Avoid transporting animals in heat over 80 degrees with high humidity.
  • Park vehicles loaded with livestock in the shade.
  • Deliver animals at night or in early morning, and use wet bedding to transport hogs in hot weather.
  • Provide well-ventilated air space in farm trucks, barns, or any enclosure.
  • Provide fresh drinking water at all times, and provide shade in resting, eating and watering areas.
  • Use a water sprinkling system to cool animals.                                                                    
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