The Garden City Telegram
6/2/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Hot time: When extreme heat hits, planning can save lives.

As often happens, summer-like weather found its way to the region during spring.

The result was temperatures well into the 90s in southwest Kansas, with more on the way. Today's high temperatures were expected to eclipse the century mark.

Such spikes in the mercury always are cause to consider ways to stay safe when it's hot. While the warnings may sound like a broken record, they're potentially life-saving.

Heat, after all, can threaten anyone and anything outside. People, pets and plants — namely crops — are at risk.

Unfortunately, too many of us take the warm weather in stride and fail to pursue necessary precautions.

When it comes to extreme heat, everyone should be cautious when going outside, whether it's to work or participate in other outdoor activities that may not seem strenuous, but can be perilous amid high temperatures.

Hot weather can attack anyone who isn't prepared. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other ailments may occur with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity when temperatures soar.

The National Weather Service reminds people to drink plenty of water; wear lightweight, light colored clothing; take plenty of breaks during outdoor activity; and avoid prolonged exposure between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on hot days.

People also should keep an eye on elderly and disabled friends and neighbors, and anyone without air conditioning or other means to stay cool.

Animals at home and on the farm also require more shade and water. Like people, they can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke, sunburn and other problems if overexposed to the heat.

Pets should be indoors when it's extremely hot. When that's not possible, they need plenty of fresh, clean water and shady places to cool off. Never leave a dog or cat inside a parked vehicle in the heat, even for a few moments.

Recent years have brought extraordinary heat to the region, and there's no reason to expect anything different this year.

Think ahead before going outside in hot weather. Find ways to stay cool, and keep an eye on those most vulnerable.

A little extra kindness and attention could be a lifesaver.