Either way, there are concerns about the heat that should grab all of our attention. I recently traveled on a couple of these super-hot days on the interstate and realized that travelers should be prepared to be on the road during this hot weather.
The first and most noticeable hazard was the amount of tire debris all over the interstate. Most of what I saw appeared to be from large trucks that had suffered blow outs. Thankfully, those vehicles have many tires to keep them rolling. Extreme heat on car tires is something to consider. It is a good idea to check the tread on all family vehicles and recreational vehicles before setting off on hot pavement as well as making sure that tires have the correct amount of air pressure and are balanced properly.
No one ever expects to get caught behind a wreck on the interstate, but when it happens, life can get miserable in a hurry with no bathroom access and nothing to drink. I would like to recommend to anyone traveling that they carry a small cooler with ice and water in their vehicle. Pop or sweet drinks will never take the place of water.
Another thing to consider is the temperature increase inside of any vehicle through windows. Glass increases temperature inside vehicles. Never leave an elderly person, a child or a pet waiting in a vehicle during extreme weather. Temperatures on the outside might be uncomfortable, but inside of a vehicle they can become unbearable, or even deadly.
Two friends and I recently went to visit an aunt and uncle in Corbin. It was a scorcher of a day, but we all climbed on the 6-wheeler and away we went looking for a bit of fun, without thinking it through. We had just eaten and had plenty to drink so not a single one of us thought about taking along jugs of water. That was the biggest mistake. We also didn’t consider the amount of dirt that would be flying around us while we rode.
By the time we made our way down to the Cumberland River, we were covered from head to foot in fine gritty dirt. We were hot, thirsty, dirty, sun scorched and had not a drop of liquid with us to drink. The journey back out was still in front of us. By the time we got back to their house, we looked like Aboriginal folk who had covered themselves from head to foot in dirt for a tribal ceremony. We were totally parched and drank water like a herd of camels when we finally got back to their house.
Staying hydrated in this weather is hugely important. This includes any activity that takes a person outside into the heat, whether it is children playing in the yard, adults working in the garden, swimmers, boaters, hikers — anybody out of the air conditioning.
In the days before air conditioning, people were more accustomed to dealing with summer heat and didn’t go back and forth between cool and hot environments and back again. The temperatures they had to deal with were more consistent. If it was hot outside, it was hot inside. Fans and iced drinks helped keep people cool on the hottest days.
If there is work that has to be done outside in the yard or garden, do it as early as possible, or as late as possible when temperatures are not so merciless. There are hours of daylight, even on these hottest days that are much more sensible to do outside chores. Those who work outside for a living quickly learn how to protect themselves from the heat. Head coverings, lightweight and light colored clothes and coolers of water go a long way to make their work bearable.
A heat stroke can happen to anyone at any age who has a prolonged exposure to high temperatures, although it happens most often to children under 4 and adults over 65. Certain medications and diseases also make some people more vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat. A heat stroke may happen to a person outdoors, but indoors as well in the lack of air conditioning or circulating air.
Heat strokes usually involve dehydration. The core body temperature rises to over 105 degrees Fahrenheit and severely affects body systems. Symptoms of heat stroke include nausea and/or vomiting, confusion, throbbing headache, dizziness or staggering, lack of sweating, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, and/or disorientation. The person may even have a seizure or become unconscious.
If you think someone has had a heat stroke, it is important to get medical help immediately. Try to move the person to a cooler place and out of direct sunshine. Take off as much clothing as necessary. Encourage them to drink water if they are conscious, and pour cool water over them. Ice packs can also help lower the core body temperature. If possible, put the person in a tub of cool water and put ice in the water or get them into the coolest shower possible if they can stand up.
If it is suspected that a person has had a heat stroke, even though they may appear to recover completely, seeing a physician is a good idea. That person will be more vulnerable to high temperatures in the few days following the incident. A family physician can also consider the impact of such an incident on the use of some medications or other illnesses.
Someone mentioned to me a very good idea about outside pets. Can you imagine how hot it is under all of that fur? My son used to get a professional haircut for his dog during the summer months. Not only did it help keep his long haired dog cool, but also made it easier to see the occasional tick that might try to find a home on Sadie’s back or ears.
The idea is to freeze water in old plastic bottles and place them in the animals’ water source. They need water, just as humans do, and cool water is probably as refreshing to them as it is to their owners. Animals in the wild go to water to cool down. Pets don’t have that option, but their owners can think about ways to create cool spots for them.
I’ve also heard that extreme heat also drives animals out of the woods to seek water. The dog days of summer are here. In the last few days I have heard reports of bears, deer, possum, raccoons and snakes in people’s yards near food and water sources. It is important to be aware of this possibility when going outside or allowing children out to play.
My best advice is to drink lots of water, stay inside when possible and stay cool!