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Tips for Staying Safe in WA's Hot, Smoky Summer

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Thursday, July 15, 2021   

SEATTLE -- An unprecedented heat wave in Washington state has underscored the importance of staying safe when it's hot.

Places such as Seattle reached record highs in late June, with two months of summer still to go.

Dr. Scott Itano, a family medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente in Seattle, offered tips for beating the heat.

"First off, I think prevention is probably the best thing," Itano recommended. "If you don't have to go outside in the heat, then try to stay indoors in a cool environment. Also, drink extra water. You're going to be losing more water, getting more dehydrated."

Itano suggested when outside, limit exposure to the sun and wear light clothing, and limit the intensity of exercise. He emphasized people should be mindful of the signs of heat exhaustion; nausea, dizziness, cramps or a headache.

Itano added lightheadedness, an abnormal or fast heartbeat or feelings of confusion could be signs of a heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. He advised people with severe symptoms to go to an urgent care facility.

Rising temperatures also raise the threat of wildfires. Itano noted Washingtonians should be careful when there is smoke in the air, and watch out for eye, nose or throat irritation.

"If you're having lung symptoms, so problems breathing, wheezing, coughing, or heart issues," Itano outlined. "You may get chest pain or elevated heart rate, or just not feel like yourself. Those are the most important things to look out for."

He stressed children have less resilience to heat and smoke, and so parents and guardians should minimize their exposure to such threats as much as possible. Itano cautioned his advice could continue to stay relevant in future summers as the effects of climate change intensify.

Disclosure: Kaiser Health Plan of Washington Project contributes to our fund for reporting on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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