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07/16/2019

Pennsylvanians Reminded to Take Precautions in Extreme Summer Heat to Protect Themselves, Families, Neighbors, Elderly and Pets

​Harrisburg, PA – With temperatures anticipated to reach the mid-90s, combined with high humidity toward the end of the week, the Wolf Administration is urging all Pennsylvanians to take steps to keep themselves and their loved ones, including pets, safe from potentially deadly heat-related illnesses. Infants and children, older adults, and people suffering from illness may be less able to respond to extreme temperatures and taking certain medications can affect how one’s body responds to heat.

“Keeping Pennsylvanians safe is always top-of-mind and providing useful and important information is one way to accomplish safety,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “With the extreme heat and humidity forecast over the next five days, I want all Pennsylvanians – residents and visitors – to be cognizant of how to take care of themselves, their families, neighbors, pets and livestock. It’s imperative to their well-being.”

All Pennsylvanians are urged to follow these safety tips to avoid heat-related illnesses:

  • Drink plenty of water and do not wait until you are thirsty to drink more fluids;
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar, as they can cause dehydration (loss of body fluids);
  • Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible – this is the best way to protect against heat-related illness and death;
  • Avoid long periods in the direct sun or in unventilated rooms;
  • If you must be outside in the heat, reschedule activities for cooler times of the day, and try to rest often in shady areas;
  • Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses – and use a sunscreen of SPF15 or higher;
  • Take frequent baths or showers and remain in a cool place;
  • Check on those who might be more at risk from high temperatures like infants, children, or older individuals; and
  • Never leave your children or pets inside vehicles.

“With the extremely high temperatures we are expecting to see, it’s important that we check on our older neighbors, friends, and family members to make sure they are staying cool,” said Secretary of the Department of Aging Robert Torres. “Pennsylvania’s network of Area Agencies on Aging is a great resource for seniors or their caregivers to find senior centers acting as cooling centers if needed.”

Local Area Agencies on Aging are ready to assist older adults facing dangerously hot weather. Area Agencies on Aging offer a broad range of services, including help with transporting older adults to cooler locations such as a local church or senior center. Find a local Area Agency on Aging here.

“Extreme heat poses a danger to all Pennsylvanians, and we urge everyone to be aware of the potential for heat-related illnesses,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are both serious, and potentially life-threatening illnesses that can occur very quickly when high temperatures occur. Drink plenty of water and if you must be outside, take frequent breaks and use sunscreen.”

Infants and people who are suffering from an illness are especially vulnerable to extreme heat. In addition to the tips for all people, specific to infants and children, remember:

  • Never leave infants or children in a parked car. 
  • Even when it feels cool outside, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly.
  • Leaving a window open is not enough - temperatures inside the car can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes, even with a window cracked open.
  • Children who are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for heat stroke, and possibly death.

As for people who are ill, the Department of Health recommends that they go somewhere where there is air conditioning, whether that is the local mall, library or other temperature-controlled locations.

The most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. Warning signs include extreme body temperature, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness and confusion. If you or loved ones develop heat stroke symptoms, get medical assistance right away. Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency will be working closely with county emergency management officials in the event that state resources are needed to support efforts to keep people safe. Many counties will post information on their websites or social media accounts as cooling centers open and close. Anyone who needs specifics can call their county emergency management agency, keeping in mind that a closer location may be in a neighboring county rather than the one where they reside.

Livestock and pet owners should take appropriate precautions to protect their animals from high temperatures that can cause them to suffer from heat-related stress and illness. Heavier, fattened livestock, those with dark coats, and chronic health conditions are at the greatest risk for stress from heat.

Signs of stress in livestock include:

  • Animals bunching together
  • Heavy panting
  • Slobbering
  • Lack of coordination
  • Trembling

If you see any of the following heat exhaustion signs in your pet, seek immediate veterinary care:

  • Anxiousness
  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Abnormal tongue color
  • Collapse

Pet owners should remember to not leave animals in vehicles. A car's interior temperature can rise within minutes, creating suffocating temperatures that lead to animal health problems and often death. When pets are outdoors, it's important to be sure they have access to shade and plenty of fresh, clean, cool water. Animals kept indoors should have proper ventilation.

Additional tips to help pets and livestock deal with the heat:

Provide shade; move them to shaded pens if possible.

Provide water; the hotter it is, the more water they should drink (providing a sprinkler can also help them to cool down).

Don't overwork livestock; it's safest to work with livestock in the early morning when body temperatures are low.

Postpone routine procedures (such as vaccination, hoof trimming, dehorning) until the weather cools.

Avoid unnecessary transportation; if livestock must be moved, do so in the late evening or early morning hours.

Take dogs for early morning or late-evening walks.

“Excessive heat can put tremendous stress on both people and animals, and Pennsylvanians should take care to ensure the safety of domestic animals as well as livestock,” said Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding. “By knowing the signs of heat stress and taking the proper precautions - like providing shade, water, and plenty of ventilation - animal owners can protect the health of livestock and pets, whether they live in the home or in the barn.”

For more information or if you have concerns about the health of your pets or livestock, contact your local veterinarian.

For more information on how to prepare for and deal with extreme heat, visit ready.pa.gov, health.pa.gov or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

MEDIA CONTACTS: 

J.J. Abbott, 717-783-1116

Rachel Wrigley, Aging, 717-783-6210

Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783

Ruth Miller, PEMA, ruthmiller@pa.gov

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