Summer in Los Angeles invariably means long hot days. While the warm climate is one of the reasons we all love our city, excessive exposure to heat can be dangerous, especially for the elderly, young children, and pets.
Key Rules: Drink plenty of water before you become thirsty and rest in the shade before you become tired. Limit your exposure to direct sunlight between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, when the sun's rays are strongest. Reschedule outdoor work and strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. If indoors, cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades or awnings.
If you feel ill, tell someone immediately. Symptoms of dehydration and heat illness may include dizziness, fatigue, faintness, nausea, muscle cramps, headache and vomiting.
Many heat emergencies occur to people exercising, working, or staying alone. Use a buddy system and check on older adults, frail or at-risk neighbors at least twice a day. If you suspect someone is experiencing a medical emergency from extreme heat exposure, call 9-1-1.
If your home does not have air conditioning, visit a cool place during the hottest part of the day!
Schools, libraries, theaters, shopping malls and community facilities such as senior centers and recreation centers can offer an air-conditioned refuge. When there is extreme hot weather, designated cooling centers may be opened in the County and City of Los Angeles. To determine their status and location, call 3-1-1 or visit the Emergency Management Division's Beat the Heat website.
Pets, horses, and livestock are also susceptible to hot weather. See that the special needs of your animals are met, including copious shade and plenty of cool water.
LA Animal Services offers these tips for ensuring pets are safe from the heat:
1. Never leave your pet alone inside a vehicle
If your pet cannot go inside at every stop with you, they are safer at home on hot days. A car can overheat even when the window has been opened slightly. Even if the temperature isn't too hot outside, your car can become up to 20 degrees warmer. Always check to make sure that dogs are welcome where you are going, otherwise leave them at home.
2. Give your pet extra water
Always make sure that your dog or cat has plenty of fresh water to drink. A bucket that holds a gallon or more of water will stay cooler much longer than water in a shallow pan. If your dog enjoys ice cubes as a treat, add them to the bowl!
3. Avoid hot ground surfaces
While walking your dog outdoors, pay particular attention to the pavement, sidewalks or sand. Check the temperature with your hand. If it's too hot to touch then it's too hot for your dog's paws. If it's 92 degrees outside, concrete or asphalt can reach up to 130 degrees.
4. Don't leave your pet outdoors for a long time
If your dog has to be left outdoors for a while, make sure they have plenty of access to shade such as trees, a covered patio or cool spot under the porch. Apply a pet specific or hypoallergenic sunscreen on sensitive areas like the nose, tips of ears and belly especially if they have light or thin fur.
5. Know the signs of overheating
If your dog or cat begins very rapid, noisy breathing, has trouble swallowing and looks very distressed, they could be having a heatstroke. Get the animal out of the heat. Apply cold, wet towels to the back of the head. Place cold packs wrapped in towels or plain wet towels between the back legs and on the belly. Cool off your pet and take them to the veterinarian immediately.