It's hot. Not just here in Texas, but across the United States. In fact, around the world.
That means we all need to be careful. More careful than the hubby, who decided to mow our yard yesterday. And not during the relative cooler morning when temperatures were in the 80s, but in the afternoon when the thermometer nudged 100 and it felt even hotter. It wiped him out for the rest of the day and evening.
I love my man, but I guess it's true that the heat does make us do dumb things.
Deadly heat: Excessive heat also tends to be more dangerous that other weather extremes and, according to U.S government data, results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.
That's why in times of extreme heat, which officially is defined as a long period (2 to 3 days) with temperatures above 90 degrees, we need to take extra care, especially if you live in an area of accompanying high humidity.
During these hot periods, evaporation is slowed and our bodies must work harder than usual to maintain a normal temperature. That added exertion can be deadly.
Remember as temperatures climb that:
- Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning.
- Older adults, children, and those who are sick or overweight are at greater risk from extreme heat.
- Animals suffer as much as their human family members.
Take care of everyone: So that means we need to take care of ourselves, as well as those we love. This means our friends and family, including the furry ones.
Some of the tips, excepted below, are just common sense.
Others you might not have thought about because you're in good shape, maybe better than your pooch.
And while the creative visual advice focuses on canines, many of these tips apply to cat and other animal lovers, too.
Check out all 16 tips on the full infographic and take care of your furry best friend and all your other pets, too, during this hottest season of the year.
Care tips for humans: Now that you've got your fur babies cooled, it's time to chill out with your family and friends and help them also avoid the ill effects of heat.
Stay in air-conditioned space if possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, go to a public library, shopping mall, heat-relief shelter or other cool location.
If you are outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. Check with your doctor if you are usually supposed to limit your fluids.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.
Cut back on exercise.
As with your pets, never, ever, for even just a minute leave anyone of any age (but especially not children or older people) in an enclosed, parked vehicle.
Leaving the auto's air conditioning on isn't an acceptable excuse either. An inadvertent swipe of an arm could cut off the cooling and the person in the vehicle might not know how to restart it. And errands generally take more than just 60 seconds.
Recognize and respond: Even after taking precautions, sometimes the heat wins. Here are the most common heat-related illnesses and how to respond to each.
Heat cramp signs include muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs. If you or someone experience these symptoms, go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if cramps last more than an hour.
Heat exhaustion is indicated by heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache or fainting. In cases of suspected heat exhaustion, go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
Heat stroke is the most severe heat-related malady. Signs include extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees on an oral thermometer); red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat; rapid, strong pulse; dizziness; confusion; or unconsciousness. In these cases, call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.
Spreading the cool: After you've ensure you and yours are safe from the heat, consider helping those who aren't as fortunate.
Here in Austin, Family Eldercare, in partnership with (among others) the local NBC affiliate KXAN, holds an annual fan drive to get enough of the cooling units to folks who don't have air conditioning. The primary recipients of the new box and oscillating fans are Central Texas seniors, adults with disabilities and families with children.
I suspect this type of program is replicated across the country, so check with your local social services.
Also touch base with your utility company. Many offer customers the option to pay a little extra with each bill, with the added dollars going to a fund to help those who need help keeping the A/C operating (or the heat in the winter).
If your electric or gas company doesn't have such a program, check out charities that focus on helping folks pay their bills. A secondary Saturday Shout Out goes to NeedHelpPayingBills.com, which tracks, as the website's name indicates, groups that help folks cover their day-to-day expenses. In the summer, higher cooling costs put extra pressure on these individual's and families' resources.
And to get back to pets, consider giving to your local animal shelter. Utility bills are a big cost for the agencies that provide a cool summer place for pets until they chill out in their forever homes.
Tax thanks for giving: While I'm sure you're giving this summer and year-round because you want to, remember that the tax deduction for charitable gifts is still on the tax books.
True, most folks now will claim the increased standard deduction amount instead of messing with itemized deductions on Schedule A.
But if you do still itemize, note that while several expense claims were reduced or eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the deduction for charitable donations remains.
In fact, cash gifts got a bit of a boost under the new tax law. Those who are able to give a lot can now claim charitable cash donations that are up to 60 percent of their adjusted gross income, an increase of the previous 50 percent limit.
So if you do give to help others stay cool and safe, thank you.
And if you can get a tax break for your generosity, be sure to claim your tax thank you when you file your return next year.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Tax reform could cost charities $13 billion a year
- 9 ways to maximize your charitable tax deduction
- Volunteer time is not tax deductible, but some related contributions might be