Las Vegas Sun

December 12, 2018

Currently: 59° — Complete forecast

Get ready for the desert heat

dog days of summer

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The dog days of summer are coming. Get ready for them.

Most people spend Sin City’s sweltering hot summers lounging by pools, dancing late into the night, or snapping selfies at music festivals with friends. While Las Vegas is the destination for summer excitement, the heat can tip well over 100 degrees and bring danger that can dampen the fun.

So here’s a guide to protecting yourself, your children and your pets from heat exhaustion, heat stroke and sunburns.

A little preventive care can ensure that the only problem you face this summer is deciding what adventure you should go on next.

How much water should you consume?

You cannot condition the body to go without water. Take your body weight, divide it by two, and that is the bare-minimum ounces of water you should drink every day. If you are a regular coffee or wine drinker, even more H2O is necessary.

Hikers should carry two to six quarts of water in their packs, depending on time of year, and have as many as 30 gallons in their vehicle depending on where they are going and the duration of the trip. Consider carrying iodine tablets to purify water on the fly.

Recognizing heat exhaustion and heat stroke

• Heat exhaustion: The precursor to heat stroke is characterized by cool, clammy skin and the “umbles,” or stumbles, mumbles, fumbles and so on. If you feel like you might be experiencing heat exhaustion, rest in the shade and drink water.

• Heat stroke: Far more dangerous than heat exhaustion, it involves the opposite symptoms. The body is in panic mode and wants to flush heat. Symptoms include red, hot and dry skin and loss of consciousness. The person will need emergency medical care to lower his or her core temperature quickly. Heat stroke can result in permanent organ and brain damage. It also can affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature in the future. It’s very important to take regular breaks in a cool, shaded space when outside. Light clothing can help keep the body cooler.

Skin safety

• Always wear sunscreen: Seems obvious, but most people don’t put sunscreen on every morning or when it’s cloudy, even though skin is still exposed to UV rays.

• Don’t forget your lips and ears: Many people bypass the lips and ears when applying sunscreen. Buy lip balm with SPF, so even when you don’t remember the sunscreen, you can apply the balm to your ears.

• How much SPF do you really need? You don’t always need SPF 100 to protect your skin. Opting for SPF 30 or 50 will provide adequate protection with fewer chemicals than its higher SPF counterpart. Just remember to apply every 90 minutes if you plan on being outside for a long time.

• Avoid being outside when the sun is most intense, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

• If you’re going to be outside for an extended period, cover up. Wear a hat, sunglasses and clothing that provides protection.

Do not leave children or pets in the car

On an 80-degree day, a car’s interior can heat up to 94 degrees in two minutes. After an hour, the inside temperature can reach 123 degrees. That’s deadly ­—essentially an oven—and can kill babies, young children and pets in minutes. Never leave a child or pet unattended in a car, even if the windows are cracked. Drivers should make it a habit to check back seats for passengers every time they leave a car. Many drivers have unintentionally left children in vehicles.

Pet safety

• Keep pets indoors as much as possible during the summer. Even in the shade, animals can go into heat distress when the temperature tops 100 degrees.

• Walk dogs early in the morning and late in the evening. If the asphalt or concrete is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your animal’s paws.

• Provide pets with multiple outdoor water bowls in case one gets flipped over. Avoid metal bowls, which can burn.

• Misters and shade screens can help keep pets cool in backyards.

• Consult a veterinarian before buzzing your pet’s fur. Fur coats actually help cool certain breeds of dog.

• Get your pets microchipped and update their identification tags. Many animals go missing during the summer.

• Don’t allow people to feed your pets at barbecues. Common summer foods, such as grapes and avocados, can be poisonous to animals.

Keep your pool secure and your kids safe

1. Never allow children or teenagers to swim without a designated adult supervising them. The adult should be sober and capable of swimming.

2. Barriers: A block wall around a backyard is not enough to prevent a drowning. Install a fence around the pool’s perimeter. Many retailers also sell pool alarms, which activate when children, pets or intruders enter the water.

3. Classes: Enroll children in age-appropriate swim classes, but don’t let this create a false sense of security. Adult supervision is still necessary when kids swim. Parents and caregivers also should take CPR classes so they know proper techniques in case of an emergency.

4. Devices: Children and nonswimmers should wear personal flotation devices when in any body of water. Rescue tools, such as a lifesaving ring and shepherd’s hook, should be kept near the pool.

5. Keep an eye on your children: In a matter of seconds, a child can slip out of the home and fall into a backyard swimming pool. Here are a few common ways children slip out of the house:

• Doggy doors: A small child can crawl through a doggy door that’s left open. Secure doggy doors by sliding a panel over the opening to prevent children from escaping.

• Low-placed door locks: Install door locks that are out of young children’s reach. Children can learn how to unlock doors by watching adults do it, so they must be placed higher on a door.

• Open doors: Always close doors behind you, even if you’re running outside for just a few seconds. Children can follow and fall in a pool without you noticing or hearing.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.