A prediction for record-breaking temperatures in the South Sound this weekend is raising concerns about staying safe in the heat.
According to the National Weather Service, it’s likely that the record temperature will be broken this weekend when temperatures reach into the 90s.
“We’re in the midst of a heat wave,” said meteorologist Johnny Burg.
The record for Friday at the Olympia Regional Airport is 93, set in 2006. Saturday’s record is 91 degrees, set in 2000. But the forecast is calling for a high of 93 degrees. The record for Sunday is 92 degrees, most recently tied in 2008.
There’s a chance of thunderstorms on Sunday but no rain is expected, so there’s concern that lightning could spark wildfires, Burg said. “It should cool off and return to the mid-80s on Monday,” he said.
Burg said the normal average temperature for late June in Olympia is between 72 and 74 degrees.
STAY SAFE IN THE HEAT
According to the state Department of Health (DOH) website, “Hospitalizations for heat-related illness in Washington state range from 25 to 113 people each year; about 50 percent are people ages 65 and older.”
The DOH website also says that there were more hospitalizations in 2006 and 2009 when there were above-average temperatures.
Chris Thomas, marketing and communication manager at Providence Health and Services, said the primary diagnosis of dehydration was given 238 times in the emergency department at St. Peter Hospital in the summer months of 2014. There were also 10 cases of heat stroke.
Malloree Sontanilla, trauma program manager at Providence St. Peter Hospital, said it’s important to take preventative action to prevent heat-related illness and water-related dangers such as drowning and other swimming or boating hazards.
She offered these tips:
• Drink plenty of fluids — but not alcohol, sugary drinks or caffeine, which actually dehydrate you. Drink liquids before you get thirsty.
• Try to limit outdoor activity to morning and evening. Take breaks and rest in the shade. Wear loose clothing and a wide brimmed hat. Wet your clothing or wear a wet bandana or cool, wet rag.
• Stay indoors as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, find somewhere that does, such as the public library or the mall. Additionally, a list of cooling stations can be found at the Thurston County website. “Even if you can stay inside for a few hours, it can help you stay cooler for longer when you do go outside,” Sontanilla said.
• Wear sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher with broad-spectrum coverage. Apply 30 minutes before going outside and reapply at least every three hours, or more often if you get wet or sweaty.
• If playing on or in the water, wear a life jacket.
• If you feel faint, stop activity immediately and get into a cool environment. Seek immediate medical attention if experiencing symptoms of heatstroke.
Sontanilla said heat exhaustion and heatstroke are very different.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, cold pale clammy skin, fast pulse, nausea or vomiting.
She said people experiencing heat exhaustion should lie down in a cool location, wear loose clothing and apply a cool, wet cloth. They should seek medical attention if vomiting continuously.
Heat stroke is a body temperature of 103 degrees. Other symptoms include hot, red, dry skin; a rapid, strong pulse; feeling faint or becoming unconscious.
Those experiencing symptoms of heat stroke should seek medical attention immediately, Sontanilla said. Call 911 first and then go to a cool environment.
She said it’s crucial to check on those who are high-risk, including people who work outside or perform outdoor activities or sports, elderly citizens, infants and children.
“Keep cool, keep hydrated and help each other out,” she said.
For more information about heat-related illness and safety, visit the Providence St. Peter Hospital website, providence.org, or check out their Facebook page, Providence Olympia.
KEEP PETS SAFE TOO
Susanne Beauregard, director of South Sound’s Animal Services, said they’ve already received 137 calls this year for dogs left in hot cars. Last year, they had received only 86 calls by this date.
“Leaving pets in hot cars is very dangerous thing to do. We have had dogs die in these circumstances,” she said.
Leaving a dog in a hot car can have lasting, not just immediate, effects. Dogs start suffering irreversible organ damage and can die months later, she said.
Beauregard said they often have to call the police and have the dog extracted if the owner cannot be found. Then the animal often has to be taken to a veterinarian.
Additionally, Beauregard described the irony of the situation, since most instances involve someone who truly loves the pet and wants to bring them along.
“It’s the people that really love their pets who have them in the car with them,” she said.
Other weather-related risks for dogs include dehydration, hot pavement, and stress caused by crowds and noise at outdoor events.
Pavement can be blisteringly hot in the summer months. “If you’re not willing to walk on that surface barefoot, don’t take your dog on it,” Beauregard said.
Dogs don’t sweat, and panting usually brings in warm air, so it’s important to make sure dogs are drinking plenty of water.
“Drinking is the only way a dog has to cool its body,” Beauregard said. “Make sure there’s plenty of water left for them, indoors or out.”
If you find an animal left in a hot car, try to find the owner. Ask nearby businesses and offices to page for the owner. If you can’t find the owner, contact animal services at 360-352-2510 or call the local non-emergency police number.
BEAT THE HEAT
South Sound residents are looking for ways to keep cool outside and inside.
Jeremy Lauritzen, store manager at Olympia Supply, said he’s been selling many fans, garden hoses and sprinklers lately. “Sales are brisk,” he said.
But Lauritzen said the store still has plenty of fans and air conditioner units left. “We saw this coming,” he said.
Sunset Air, which sells and installs air conditioning systems, is experiencing a similar boost, and owner Brian Fluetsch estimates sales are up about 25 percent.
He said there’s always a bigger boost in sales when the summers are hotter earlier. Conversely, he said most people seem to be willing to wait for the heat to just go away when it doesn’t come until August.
“When it starts early like this, it gets busy,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of things that have been put off over the last several years due to the economy. Now we are seeing a better economy and improved value in our homes, so more people are updating their systems and the weather is the icing on the cake.”
Outdoor ways to keep cool, such as splash parks such as the Heritage Park Fountain in downtown Olympia, should also be a hit this weekend.
This summer, the Heritage Park Fountain runs 9 a.m.-noon, 1:30-5 p.m. and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursdays through Tuesdays. It’s closed Wednesdays for maintenance.