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Hot weather tips from King County health officials

This article remains for archival purposes only. Due to the passage of time, some elements in the article may no longer be accurate or relevant.
Release Date: Jul. 1, 2015

In light of this summer's hot and dry conditions, emergency management personnel and Public Health officials have issued the following safety directives for King County residents:

How to stay safe in hot weather

  1. Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors twice a day (the very young and elderly are especially vulnerable to heat).
  2. Stay cool. Spend time in air-conditioned buildings and avoid direct contact with the sun. Many cities in King County will offer cooling centers for those who need them. Other places to stay cool include malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and libraries. Washington Information Network 2-1-1 is maintaining a list of cooling centers throughout King County (searchable by ZIP code): www.resourcehouse.com/win211/King/topics/Organizational__Community__International_Services/Disaster_Services/Disaster_Relief_Services/Extreme_Heat_Cooling_Programs/programs.aspx
  3. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more.
  4. Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open. The temperature in a vehicle is much higher than outside and it only takes a few minutes for severe medical problems and even death to occur.
  5. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Seek medical care immediately if you know someone who experiences symptoms.

Signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Weak pulse
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting

Signs of heat stroke:

  • High body temperature (103° F or higher)
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness

Hot weather safety information and resource links: www.kingcounty.gov/safety/prepare/residents-business/Hazards_Disasters/ExtremeHeat.aspx

Pet safety
King County animal control officers will be out on regular patrols, and will respond to resident calls about animals in distress due to the heat. Call 9-1-1 or 206-296-PETS (7387) if you see a pet in a hot car, or an animal that lacks access to fresh water and shade. For more tips, visit: www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/pet-safety/protecting-pets-from-heat

Drowning prevention

  • King County rivers are extremely cold, fast moving, and dangerous. If you go on or in rivers, lakes, or even swimming pools without lifeguards, wearing a life jacket is always recommended.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or using other substances when swimming, boating, or doing other water-oriented sports.

  • Information on water safety: www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/injury/water.aspx

Fire danger and firework safety
With some of our warmest weather yet to come, fire danger continues to rise. To help avoid starting wildfires in our area avoid all outdoor burning.
Fire facts:

  • About one-third of all fires occur in residential properties; one-third involves natural vegetation (brush or wildland); and the remaining third involves vehicles, outside equipment and storage, and other locations.
  • Most fires are human-caused and are preventable, while only a small percentage of fires are actually due to natural acts such as lightning.

Listen to local fire chiefs’ recommendation to leave fireworks displays to licensed professionals.
A predicted drought this summer makes our communities especially vulnerable to fire hazards. A stray firework or carelessly tossed cigarette butt can quickly threaten your property. Therefore, use of fireworks to celebrate Independence Day is banned in many cities and strongly discouraged in areas of Unincorporated King County – better to attend a licensed professional, local firework display. A list of locations in Washington State can be found at www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/docs/fireworks/fireshow.pdf.

If you disregard this advice and light your own fireworks on July 4, please follow these safety measures:

  • Only use legal fireworks - illegal fireworks include firecrackers, missiles, and bottle rockets.
  • Light fireworks on flat, hard level surfaces, and wear eye protection.
  • Only adults should light fireworks – keep kids and others at a safe distance (at least 20 feet).
  • Keep your pets indoors and be sure their ID tag is up-to-date in the event they panic, run away, and become lost.
  • Have a bucket of water or a hose nearby to put out any fires or "dud" fireworks.
  • Soak unused fireworks in water before disposing of them.
  • Clean up fireworks debris. Do not place warm, used fireworks in a plastic bag, as this can cause a fire. Dispose of used fireworks in a metal trash can.

To learn more about fireworks ordinances, bans, and other important information, visit www.kingcounty.gov/property/FireMarshal/fireworks.aspx and www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/fireworks.htm.