PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With the heat bearing down on Southern New England, there are many things to be aware of while you enjoy your summer.
Eyewitness News went to the experts on Tuesday to get answers about how to handle hot situations in the summer – including fires and the health and wellbeing of children and pets.
According to Rhode Island’s Emergency Management Director Peter Gaynor, the dry heat brings an elevated fire risk. He said people who might be barbecuing need to make sure there isn’t any brush or flammable materials nearby.
“One little spark, especially on days like today, it takes off quickly and if you don’t have anything to stop it like a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher, it’s going to get quickly out of control,” he said.
For workers who have to be outside, Gaynor said to stay hydrated and pay attention to your body.
“It starts off small as heat cramps and all the way up to heat stroke,” he said.
Of course, it’s always crucial to not leave kids or pets in cars, even for a few minutes.
“The car can actually heat up as much as 20 degrees in 10 minutes,” said Dr. Dina Morrissey of the Rhode Island Hospital Injury Prevention Center.
Morrissey is working to prevent vehicle heat stroke, or hot car deaths, which continue to happen nationwide.
“So far this year, we’ve had nationally 23 children die in hot cars,” she said. “Last year, we had 24 total for the whole year.”
We asked her what to do if you see a child or pet locked in a car.
“Call 911. Do something, don’t just walk away,” she said. “If you feel like it’s really an emergency – that child is not doing well – yes, we recommend safely breaking the window.”
According to statistics provided by Lifespan, dehydration was the number one heat-related illness that sent people to Rhode Island Hospital’s emergency rooms in the past week.
Between July 19 and 24, 52 people went to Lifespan hospital emergency rooms for heat-related illnesses. 42 of them were admitted for dehydration, and others went for heat exhaustion, heat rash and heat syncope (fainting).
The first signs of dehydration, according to Morrissey, include thirst, dizziness, nausea, and lightheadedness.
“You’re already on the road to dehydration,” if you have those symptoms, she said.
If you’re going to be outside in the heat, Morrissey said you need to drink water frequently.
“We recommend that you stop to drink at least every 15-20 minutes while you’re outside, and take a good 10 to 12 gulps,” she said.
“And alcohol doesn’t count,” Gaynor said.
OSHA is also reminding employers to give workers rest breaks in the shade.