by Staff Reports
Although Arizona enjoyed an unusually cool May, 110º temperatures and higher will be the norm for the next few months. Monsoons will come, but it is expected the onset of the season will be later than usual, with below normal rains into August, then hopefully extra rain in September.
Of course, during the heat, an easy solution is to move between air-conditioned buildings and vehicles, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be on the alert for heat-related distress.
To avoid heat exhaustion, make sure you wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing and a hat when you are outdoors. Use a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more.
Plan your outdoor exercise and recreational activities for early mornings and evenings when temperatures aren’t at their midday peak.
Most importantly, prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. It is recommended that those planning moderate-to-high intensity exertion drink 17 to 20 ounces of water, fruit juice or electrolyte-rich sports beverages two or three hours before physical exercise.
Not all fluids are recommended. Those containing caffeine or alcohol can actually make you more dehydrated. Of course, check with your doctor to ensure you are practicing safe precautions if you have any medical conditions.
Children and Pets
Children and pets are especially vulnerable to the heat. Make sure children drink water regularly, dress lightly and stay within air-conditioned spaces.
Ensure fresh water is available at all times for your pets. In the summer, it’s probably best not to leave them outside during the middle of the day if possible. If they must be outside, make sure there is some shade. A grassy area would be great so they don’t get burned on hot pavement. Pet booties can be fashionable and help protect their paws.
It is never safe to leave children or pets in a hot car, even for a couple of minutes. Temperatures can rise to well over 130 degrees quickly, leading to extreme heat distress and even death.
In the last 20 years, over 35 children have died of heatstroke as a result of being left in a hot car in Arizona, according to NoHeatStroke.org.
A recent law passed in Arizona states that if anyone believes a child or animal in a hot vehicle is in “imminent danger,” a good Samaritan can break a window to rescue them without civil liability. First, check to see if there is an unlocked door, and call law enforcement before resorting to a forceful entry.
Also, make sure you lock your car when it is parked so children don’t accidentally crawl into a vehicle and get trapped.
Be a Good Neighbor
Make a courtesy check on elderly neighbors to ensure their air conditioning is working properly and they have adequate supplies of drinking water for themselves and their pets.
Recognizing that plants don’t waste water, people do, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (azwater.gov/conservation/landscaping) states that the largest use of potable water in Arizona is for landscaping and outdoor use.
When designing your outdoor landscape, you want to take two factors into consideration:
Low-water-use plants that are drought tolerant will help save water and money on your monthly bills. Setting up an irrigation system is highly recommended. Check out the website above for lists of appropriate plants.
Defensible space is critical, even in our desert landscaping. Wildland fires can blaze up quickly and destroy everything in their path. At ReadyforWildfire.org, it is recommended that you consider two zones:
Zone 1 — about 30 feet from your home:
Remove all dead plants and vegetation in that 30-foot zone. Trim trees regularly, removing branches that hang over your roof. Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs located near windows. Make sure any woodpiles are not within Zone 1.
Zone 2 — extends about 100 feet from your home:
Cut or mow grass and weeds to a maximum height of 4 inches. You’ll want to ensure there is appropriate vertical space from the ground to the lowest branches on a tree, and check for horizontal spacing between trees and shrubs.
Not only do you want to be safe in the event of a wildfire, you also want to be prepared for monsoon season. Sudden bursts of high winds and massive downpours can wreak havoc on a home.
Probably the most important step is to get your roof inspected for loose tiles and damaged shingles. Check out your attic and make sure there are no signs of previous water leaks. Taking care of minor repairs now can prevent big and expensive repairs in the future.
You’ll want to also make sure your rain gutters are not clogged or leaky.
Be sure to change your air filters to help catch dust before it enters your home.
If your home or neighborhood is susceptible to flash floods, consult an expert to discuss appropriate precautions and water damage prevention.
H: Hydrate — keep up your fluid hydration.
E: Environment/weather — know how hot it is, limit outdoor activities between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
A: Awareness — pay attention to how you are feeling.
T: Take action — respond quickly if you think you are feeling the effects of heat exhaustion.
The United Way of Pinal County coordinates a Heat Relief Network in partnership with municipalities, local government, faith-based communities and local businesses. You can find information on hydration stations, refuge locations and water donation sites at unitedwayofpc.org/heatrelief.