Staying safe and cool this Independence Day

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As the Fourth of July approaches, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) encourages everyone to take precautions and prepare for outdoor activities to ensure that summertime fun does not end at the emergency room or worse.

The National Weather Service is predicting moderate to major heat for much of Washington by the end of this week, according to a news release. Track weather conditions and plan ahead to monitor people with health conditions, the elderly, and infants, and to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses.

DOH also recommends:

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, but don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

Take frequent breaks when working outdoors. Wear wide-brimmed hats, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and protect skin from sunburn.

If you notice symptoms of heat illness (dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps), act immediately. Move to a cooler location to rest for a few minutes and seek medical attention right away if you do not feel better.

Keep your home cool  by closing windows and shades during daylight hours. Use your stove and oven less to keep temperatures cooler inside.

Check on your friends, family, and neighbors regularly, and especially before bedtime. Assist those who are vulnerable or at higher risk, as well as neighbors who are elderly, ill or may need help.

Keep outdoor pets safe and make sure they have protection from heat. Walk on grass instead of asphalt, which can burn your pet’s paws. Never leave people or pets in a parked vehicle.

Warm temperatures do not necessarily mean warm water. Rivers and lakes are still very cold this time of year, and jumping into cold open water can cause involuntary gasping, rapid breathing, or hyperventilating because of the “shock” our bodies can experience. This can result in drowning.

Cold showers combined with hot body temperatures can cause hypothermia, especially for older adults and children. Ease into temperature changes. Follow  water safety tips  if you go swimming or boating.

Prevent wildfires. Know the current wildfire risk in your county, follow burn bans, and practice campfire and firework safety.

The DOH  website is the source for a great deal of information. Visit Facebook, Instagram, and follow the DOH on X (formerly Twitter). Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection.

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