REGION —Summer's in full swing, and as residents enjoy recreational beach visits and pool parties or are hard at work on their farm or other outdoor job site, they are reminded to take precautions to keep themselves, their children, pets and loved ones safe.

Those outdoors are advised to play close attention to both the outside temperature and the humidity levels, as the two together can make it feel much warmer outside than a thermometer will show.

This is known as the heat index, and can be viewed in a hand table complied by the National Weather Service (NWS) (https://www.weather.gov/safety/heat-index).

According to the index, at 40 percent humidity, 80 degrees Fahrenheit (F) feels like 80 degrees. At 100 percent humidity, that same 80 degree day feels like it's 87.

When the air temperature rises to 90 degrees F, 40 percent humidity makes it feel like 91 degrees and 100 percent humidity makes it feel like 132 degrees F.

When humidity is above 50 percent, any temperatures above 80 degrees F will feel hotter than the thermometer reads.

Paying attention to the heat index is crucial when performing outdoor activities as the higher the perceived temperature, the more one will sweat and the quicker heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke can set in.

The lesser of the two, heat exhaustion can cause a person to sweat heavily, become extremely pale and have muscle cramps.

Other symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, a headache, fainting, and nausea or vomiting.

Heat exhaustion can usually be treated by helping the individual cool off and hydrate, but if symptoms persist longer than one hour or are severe, or if the individual has heart problems, high blood pressure or other medical conditions, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) recommends residents seek medical attention.

Heat stroke, on the other hand, can be fatal if left untreated.

Symptoms of heat stroke include a body temperature in excess of 103 degrees F and skin which is red, hot and/or dry, but the person is not sweating.

Other symptoms include a rapid, strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and unconsciousness.

DOH states in a press release, “If you think someone is having a heat stroke, it is important to first call 9-1-1. After calling for help, get the person to a shady area and quickly cool them down by putting them in a tub of cool water or spraying them with a garden hose. You should not give the victim any fluids, including water, to drink.”

DOH notes that infants, young children and adults over 65 are more susceptible to these conditions than teens and adults under 65.

DOH requests residents with elderly neighbors check on them when temperatures rise.

Preventative measures

During periods of extreme heat and humidity, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advise individuals to drink lots of water and seek cool, air-conditioned locations to weather the hottest parts of the day.

“According to the CDC, “Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.”

For those whose jobs require them to be outside during hot days, such as builders and farmers, the NWS recommends taking breaks in shaded areas frequently with plenty of water.

If possible, wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing while outside to stay cool.

Those working or playing outside should also be sure to wear sunscreen in order to prevent sunburn.

Those with pets are reminded that, if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your animals, too.

Pet-owners are advised to keep their pets inside where it's cool on hot days.

Should one wish to leave a pet outdoors for a period of time, it's important the animal has a shady area to rest and plenty of water.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends walking pets during cooler periods of the day, and always avoiding hot surfaces like asphalt as it can burn their feet.

AVMA reminds pet owners that parasites such as fleas, ticks and heartworm are more common in warm weather periods.

Heat safety and cars

The DOH reminds residents to never leave pets or children locked in a car, even if the windows are cracked.

According to data compiled by Jan Null—a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and and adjunct professor at San Jose State University—so far this year, there have been 20 child deaths across the nation resulting from kids being left behind in a car while an adult carries on with his or her day.

Last year, the total number of children lost to heatstroke from being left in a car totaled 52, the highest single-year total in at least 20 years.

When the temperature outside is 80 degrees F, a car can reach an internal temperature of 94.3 degrees F in two minutes, according data from a study performed by Jan Null, CCM at San Jose State University.

Within ten minutes, the internal temperature on that same 80 degree day is 99 degrees F. Within an hour, the temperature inside that car is 123 degrees F.

The NWS reminds those traveling with pets and children to “Look before you lock!” to be sure everyone is out of the car before departing.

NWS recommends keeping a stuffed animal in the front passenger seat to remind the driver there are children in the back.

More information about Null's studies and a visualization of the air temperature inside a car can be viewed online at: https://www.noheatstroke.org.

More information about heat safety is available from the NWS at: https://www.weather.gov/safety/heat.

More information about heat-related illness is available from the CDC at: https://ephtracking.cdc.gov/showClimateChangeExtremeHeat.action.

—Information from a press release was used in this story.