Aug. 16, 2012
Keep cool in the summer heat
King County offers safety information and tips to cope with hot weather and danger of wildfires
Near record-high temperatures are expected across King County the next two days, prompting the National Weather Service to issue an Excessive Heat Warning through Friday evening. High temperatures are forecast to reach the mid to upper 90s both today and Friday.
“Our region is known for rain, not hot weather like this,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Extreme heat can be dangerous, even deadly, so we are urging everyone to take precautions to keep cool and stay safe.”
When the temperature and humidity rises, people's bodies are not able to cool themselves quickly enough, and they overheat. In severe instances, people can suffer heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Older adults, young children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk for heat-related illness.
Protect yourself and loved ones from the heat by following these recommendations:
- Spend more time in air conditioned places. If you don't have air conditioning, consider visiting a mall, movie theater, or other cool public places.
- Dress in lightweight clothing.
- Check up on elderly neighbors and relatives.
- Take a cool shower or bath, or place cool washcloths on your skin.
- Drink plenty of water. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar because they can actually dehydrate your body.
If you go outside:
- Limit the time you're in direct sunlight.
- Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges, or pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.
- Do outdoor activities in the cooler early morning and late evening hours.
- Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.
If you notice someone with signs of overheating, move the person to a cooler location, have them rest for a few minutes, and slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention for them immediately if they do not feel better.
Heat stroke is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
- red, hot, and dry skin
- rapid, strong pulse
- nausea, confusion and unconsciousness
For more tips and resources on staying cool in hot weather, visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/BeatTheHeat.
Several cities in King County have set up cooling centers for those who need them. A continuously updated list is also posted at www.kingcounty.gov/prepare.
Auburn Senior Center, 808 9th St. SE
Thursday, August 16, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday, August 17, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
William C. Warren Building, Veterans Memorial Park, 411 E St. NE
Friday, August 17, 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Cooling centers in Auburn are open to people of all ages and to properly restrained pets. Some pet kennels will be available on-site if needed.
The following community centers are open during normal business hours:
Crossroads Community Center, 16000 NE 10th St.
Highland Community Center, 14224 Bel-Red Rd.
North Bellevue Community Center, 4063 148th Ave. NE
South Bellevue Community Center, 14509 SE Newport Way
For specific hours at each center, please visit www.bellevuewa.gov/community_centers.htm or call Bellevue Parks and Community Services at 425-452-6885.
Lake Wilderness Lodge (Maple Room), 22500 248th St.
Thursday, August 16, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday, August 17, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
No pets will be permitted in the Maple Valley cooling center.
SeaTac Community Center/Senior Center, 13735 24th Ave. S.
Thursday, August 16, 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday, August 17, 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. S.
Thursday, August 16, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday, August 17, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Spray Park will be open from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Some people turn to local rivers and lakes to cool off, but drowning is a real concern. Please use caution and wear a personal flotation device (PFD) on the water. If you choose to swim, choose a safer location – visit a local pool or lifeguarded beach instead.
Heat Safety for Pets
Animals cannot sweat like humans, and they are vulnerable to overheating quickly, especially when the temperature rises above 80 degrees. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh, cool water to pets, and shade from the sun. Though pets still need exercise during warm weather, take extra care when exercising older dogs, short-nosed dogs, and dogs with thick coats, as they are especially vulnerable to overheating. On hot days, limit exercise to early morning or late evening hours.
Another danger is leaving pets in a vehicle. In sunny weather, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to 120 degrees or more, even with windows left slightly open. Animals left in a hot car, even for just a few minutes, can suffer from heat stroke, brain damage, or death. In addition, leaving a pet unattended in a hot car can be grounds for animal cruelty charges.
If you see an animal in distress in an unattended vehicle, first try to contact authorities at the location you are visiting. They may be able to help locate the vehicle’s owner to unlock it quickly. If security guards or other authorities are unavailable, call 911 immediately.
Because of the recent hot, dry weather, many areas of King County are at risk of wildfire. Communities such as Cumberland, Maple Valley, Enumclaw, and North Bend are at particular risk because of their exposure to strong east winds that blow from the Cascades in the summer.
There are steps that residents can take minimize the risk of fire to their property.
King County’s Forestry Program offers free technical assistance in identifying and mitigating wildfire risk, including:
- Assessing wildfire hazards around the home and in the community
- Firewise landscaping for sun and shade
- Alternatives to outdoor burning, including chipping and composting
- Developing a personalized fire safety action plan
For free technical assistance in identifying and mitigating wildfire risk, contact the King County Forestry Program at 206-296-8042, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.kingcounty.gov/environment/waterandland/forestry/forestfire.aspx.
The Fire Marshal has declared a Phase 1 burn ban in King County through September 1. A Phase 1 burn ban prohibits all outdoor burning except for small recreational fires in established fire pits at approved campgrounds or on private property with the owner's permission. These fires must:
- Be built in a metal or concrete fire pit, such as those typically found in designated campgrounds
- Grow no larger than three feet across
- Be located in a clear spot free from any vegetation for at least ten feet in a horizontal direction, including a 20-foot vertical clearance from overhanging branches
- Be attended at all times by an alert individual with immediate access to a shovel and either five gallons of water or a connected and charged water hose.
The use of gas and propane self-contained stoves and barbeques will continue to be allowed under the ban.
King County is assisting Kittitas County as crews fight the Taylor Bridge wildfire there. So far, four firefighting trucks, a water tender, and a small number of firefighters and support staff have been sent from King County to help with the effort. In addition, the King County Regional Communications and Emergency Coordination Center (RCECC) has been activated in a limited capacity to support the coordination of resources being dispatched to Kittitas County.
The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency says unhealthy levels of smog will affect King County through Saturday, with the greatest impact on communities in the Cascade foothills. Exposure to smog can make breathing difficult, trigger asthma attacks, and weaken the immune system. People who are sensitive to air pollution should limit their time outdoors. For more information, visit www.pscleanair.org.