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Summer Safety: Extreme Heat, Sunburn, Pets, Grilling, and Fireworks Safety

As you may have noticed, the HOT temperatures have arrived.  We have experienced temperatures above 110 degrees already.  This is extreme heat, and we should take precautions. Populations at risk during a period of excessive heat include children, older adults, outdoor workers, and people with disabilities. It is estimated that approximately 700 people a year die of heat related events.  Safety during periods of extreme heat focuses on hydration and education regarding heat exhaustion/heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion refers to loss of water and salt in our bodies. Typically, this is from sweating and hydration is not keeping up with the loss.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Heat stroke means the body is not able to control its internal temperature. Heat stroke can and does lead to death if not treated.

Basic behavior that can prevent heat related medical emergencies include:  Hydration with water preferably. Sugary drinks should be avoided. Remain out of heat and cool your indoor area with air conditioning. Clothing should be loose fitting and light weight. Avoid exercising outdoors during periods of excessive heat.

GVFD Heat Stroke

Red, hot dry skin, fever, inability to sweat, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, dizziness, and confusion. Faintness, seizures, and coma can occur. If these heat related symptoms are suspected call 911.

A few words about leaving children, the elderly, the disabled, our pets in the car during extreme heat periods.  Certainly, the tragic stories of death to our vulnerable people and pets caused by heat stroke from being left in a car have been heard repeatedly on the news. Temperatures inside a locked car can be unsafe within minutes.  Please don’t be tempted to “run in for just a minute.”


GVFD Sunburn

Described as a burn to the skin due to exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR). The more sunburns an individual has had, the higher the risk for that person of skin cancer. A sunburn can occur from expected exposure, such as intentionally lying in the sun to acquire a tan, or from unintentional exposure. Unintentional exposure can occur from any outdoor activity. In addition to skin cancer, UVR exposure is associated with cataracts, premature skin aging (wrinkling) and immunosuppression.

Use sunscreen with a label of broad-spectrum protection.     Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measurement of how long the sunscreen you use will protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It is recommended to use a SPF of 30 or higher. Note anything less than a SPF of 15 does not protect from skin cancer.

GVFD Sunburn 1
Sun burned Dogs Nose GVFD

Dogs can get sunburned as well. When outdoors with your pet look for shade. Do not shave your pet’s hair. The dog’s coat is layered to provide cooling in the summer and warmth in the winter. Shaving a dog damages the dog’s ability to prevent overheating and sunburn. 

UV Index: This index is a scale from 0-11 of the risk from UV radiation on any given day, in any zip code in the US. It is available from the National Weather Service.

Hot asphalt on pavements and streets can burn a dog’s paws. Feel the pavement when you go outside. If it’s hot for you, it’s hot for your dog. Blisters from burns require veterinary evaluation. Tar can melt into the paws and requires removal by a veterinarian.

Burned Paws GVFD

The discussion of effects of sunlight cannot end without an acknowledgement of the great benefit of the sunlight. Sunlight warms us, provides energy and provides light. Sunlight provides Vitamin D. Balancing the benefits of sunlight with the potential harm to health can be accomplished.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks Safety GVFD 1A

Fireworks have remained a Fourth of July celebration since the first Independence Day in 1776. According to the National Pyrotechnic Association, Americans spend over $1 billion dollars on fireworks each year. This represents approximately 268 million pounds of fireworks. Fireworks can cause significant personal injury, property loss and damage.  Fires related to fireworks peak around the Fourth of July. There are approximately 18,500 fires attributed to fireworks yearly. Let’s celebrate our holiday safely and not contribute to the statistics!

Choosing a safe site involves avoiding injury to your audience, your home, and being prepared for fire related injuries and fire prevention.

Firework Safety GVFD 3

Safety Tips:

  • Select a site that is free of trash, sticks or dead wood or any debris.
  • Select a surface that is hard and flat and fireproof.
  • Do not choose a site near your home.
  • Do not light fireworks on your deck or patio roofing.
  • Do not light fireworks near buildings.
  • Do not light fireworks near gas tanks (such as home propane tanks.)
  • Do not light fireworks near power lines.
  • Do not use fireworks in areas prohibiting their use.
  • Avoid lighting fireworks close to the fuse. Create distance between your arm and the fuse with a utility lighter.
  • All children, including older children, require adult supervision around fireworks which includes sparklers. Sparklers reach a heat of 2,000 degrees. Statistically, sparklers are responsible for 25 % of all emergency room fireworks injuries, and children under five years old account for half of these injuries.
  • Dress appropriately by wearing closed toed shoes to prevent injuries to feet and toes. Protect eyes by wearing goggles. Wear long hair back to prevent hair catching fire. Wear clothes tucked in and close fitted to the body.
  • Finally avoid fireworks around your pet. An outside pet can become scared and lost. Being around fireworks has and can result in burns. Loud noises can also create fear and discomfort for your pet.

Barbecue Safety

Outdoor grilling is a summer favorite. Over half of all American households own a gas grill. Injuries related to outdoor grilling, chiefly from burns due to a grill fire, are highest in July. In terms of numbers, the annual average of home fires due to grills is approximately 10,000.

Barbecue safety involves preventing fires.   The right way to care for a grill will go a long way in preventing fires. Safety also requires an awareness how to be prepared and of what to do in the event of fire.

Prevention starts with where to position the grill. Barbecue grills that use charcoal or propane are intended exclusively for outdoor use.  It is recommended to position the grill at least 10 ft from the house. A grill flare can extend into patio, alcove, or deck structures then spread into the house. Flammable objects such as decorations, should be removed.

GVFD Barbecue Safety 1
GVFD Barbecue Safety 2

Be mindful of children and pets Keep them at a three-foot distance from the grill.

Check the grill for gas leaks by preparing a mixture of half water and half liquid dish soap. Rub the mixture on the hose and connector. Turn the grill on with lid open. If large bubbles are noted this is a sign that the hose or connector have damage.

Have a fire extinguisher handy. Familiarity of the proper way to use the fire extinguisher should be reviewed at the beginning of the barbecue season. If for any reason the fire extinguisher cannot be made to work when fire erupts, call 911 immediately. Delays in putting out a fire early due to struggling with the fire extinguisher instead of calling 911 can increased severity of fire damage and injury.

GVFD Putting Out a BBQ Fire

Thinking safety first will go a long way in having a fun filled summer and 4th of July celebration. We hope these tips will help you stay healthy and safe.