Keep your cool this summer

Graphic courtesy National Weather Service – Seattle.

Summer is here! Forecasts call for a gradual warming, with temperatures on Sunday, Aug. 16 reaching 90 in the Seattle area and even the mid- to upper 90s inland. This is likely to bring high risk for much of the population, especially those who are heat sensitive and those without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration.

Things are different this year with COVID-19. Going to a movie theater, a mall, or the library to cool off after work isn’t possible for most of us in King County in this phase of the state’s Safe Start reopening plan. Remember to let safety be your guide. Due to the extremely dry conditions, King County Fire Marshal has issued a burn ban for unincorporated areas in King County.

Tips from Public Health – Seattle & King County specific to COVID and heat:

  • COVID risk adds an additional concern during hot weather. Unlike the flu, hot weather does not decrease the transmission of COVID-19.
  • Cities will not be able to set up cooling centers this summer with the increase in COVID-19 spread.
  • Many swimming beaches may be closed or lifeguards may not be present. Never swim alone, use lifejackets in or near rivers and lakes, and heed Public Health warnings about crowded parks. Get more information about safe swimming in COVID times.
  • Wearing a mask is a key measure to prevent the spread of COVID; in hot weather, wearing a mask can also contribute to overheating. Avoid spending time in hot indoor and outdoor locations where you would have to wear a mask. Take a safely distanced “mask break” if you are getting too hot and uncomfortable:
    • Go outside and make sure you are distanced from others by at least six feet.
    • Remove your mask to breathe and cool down.
    • Put the mask back on before returning to the venue or activity where the mask is required.

For everyone when days are hot:

  • Keep window blinds or curtains closed when outdoor temperatures skyrocket. This reduces indoor temps and reduces the strain on cooling equipment, if in use.
  • Keep windows and doors closed in locations with air conditioning.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (but avoid alcohol, caffeine, or lots of sugar that can make you lose body fluid).
  • Dress in layers to manage varying temperatures.
  • Minimize extended time outside.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and unplug unused electrical equipment.
  • Take a tepid shower or bath to cool down.
  • Avoid hot and heavy meals that can raise your body temperature.
  • Check on vulnerable family or neighbors by phone or text to make sure they are safe and cool.
  • NEVER leave pets or children in a hot car. Call 9-1-1 if you see a child or pet in a hot car.
  • Learn the warning signs of heat illness that happens when the body can’t cool down. If someone has heat stroke, they need to call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room immediately.

If you must be outside:

  • The most important thing to do is to drink lots of water. When it’s really hot, drink up to a quart of water every hour with moderate to heavy physical activity.
  • Carry a water bottle.
  • Consider sports drinks for electrolyte replacement when sweating a lot.
  • Wear loose, light clothing with materials designed to wick sweat.
  • Wear a hat with a brim.
  • Check with your supervisor about adjusting your work hours to start earlier, when it’s cooler.
  • Stop all activity if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, faint or have a pounding heart or trouble breathing.
  • Hot, sunny weather invariably brings more people to King County’s parks and trails, which are open consistent with the state’s Phase Two guidelines. More information about what is open can be found on Parks’ COVID-19 response page.
  • Park and trail visitors can report crowding, areas that need attention, or other issues using Parks’ reporting tool, SeeClickFix.