How to beat the heat: A complete guide on overcoming extreme temperatures

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Beating the heat is no joke—especially while record-setting temperatures encroach on your community. Not only are heat waves bothersome, but they can easily cause emergencies that threatened public health and wellbeing.

Below, you’ll find all of the details you’ll need to keep safe in the heat + community stories that tie into these vital topics.

First Alert Weather

July 22, 2022: KAPP-KVEW’s First Alert Weather team is tracking a widescale heatwave expected to land in Southeastern Washington and Northeastern Oregon starting Monday, July 25. Click here for more details: Major Heat Wave — First Alert Weather calls for dangerous temperatures next week

Temperatures are expected to reach at least 110 degrees by Thursday, July 28 and peak the following day before falling back to the low 100s.

LAST YEAR: Yakima, Pendleton, Hermiston, Walla Walla, and Ellensburg records fall, Tri-Cities falls short

Heat Stroke vs. Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Cramps

Did you know that there are different kinds of illnesses you can contract from prolonged heat exposure? In order, heat cramps, exhaustion and stroke increase in severity with the latter being life-threatening. Let’s get to know the difference*.

Heat Stroke And Exhaustion Graphic - Kennewick, Franklin County

Critical symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Heat Cramps: The least dangerous of these ailments, heat-related muscle cramps or spasms that are usually triggered by intensive exercise or other forms of physical intensity in the heat. Address the cramps by hydrating, stretching, resting and cooling off.

Heat Exhaustion: When your body is exposed to extreme heat, resulting in the excessive loss of salt and water, you begin experiencing various symptoms outlined in the diagram above. The body’s inability to cool itself down can progress into…

Heat Stroke: A serious, life-threatening emergency in which the body is overwhelmed by excessive heat. You must drink cold fluids, apply ice to the armpits and groin, move somewhere cool and seek medical attention.

*Information in this section is provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine.

FIRST RESPONDERS PREPARE: Yakima emergency workers anticipate heat-related emergency calls

Hydration

Staying hydrated is one of the most important ways to beat the heat, but it takes diligence. Drinking fluids before, during and after work will make sure your body has what it needs to stay healthy in high temperatures, according to the CDC*.

“Water will almost always maintain hydration during work in the heat, as long as you eat regular meals to replace salt lost in sweat,” CDC officials state.

Their research shows that normal amounts of coffee, tea, or soda shouldn’t impact you too much in the heat. However, the high caffeine levels in energy drinks can be dangerous since they can impact your heart, which is already strained by the high temperatures.

Alcohol is also not recommended in the heat since it can cause dehydration and increase the risk of heat-related illness if consumed within 24 hours of working under the hot sun.

*CDC = Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

RELATED: By the time you get thirsty, it’s too late! First responders offer tips on safely beating the heat

Agricultural Impact

For many agriculture workers and business owners across the region, heat waves spell trouble. Working conditions can be unsuitable for staff members and crops can suffer serious damage. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder found that extended exposure to high temperatures over several days can seriously damage crops.

ESSENTIAL READING: Yakima Valley’s crops, bees are put at risk during heat wave

KAPP-KVEW’s Emily Goodell spoke with agriculture experts about how the heat wave will negatively impact crops and the bees which help support them.

COMMUNITY IMPACT: Walla Walla farmer ‘devastated’ as high temps destroy onion crops

Fire Danger

Wildfire Safety Graphic

Wildfires have become a common occurrence in Washington state with summertime heat opening the door for intense fires to burn through natural land. Evidence reported by the Climate Science Special Report suggests that high temperatures in the Western United States cause dryer conditions which make vegetation more likely to catch and spread the blaze.

Below are two comprehensive guides on wildfire terms, fire safety and what to keep in your “Go Bag” in case of an emergency:

Want breaking updates on the latest wildfires in your region? Sign up for our newsletter below.

Places to Stay Cool + Cooling Centers

There are few better ways to avoid heat-related illness than sticking indoors. Community organizations and city buildings across the region are opening their doors to help people in their area avoid the dangers of extreme heat.

ESSENTIAL RESOURCE: Cooling centers across Southeast Washington open doors for heat wave

Want to know more about where to stay cool? Click the link above!

LAST YEAR: Where are the coldest spots in the Tri-Cities during a heat wave?

Pet Safety

If you think you’re hot, imagine how it must feel to be under the summer sun with a big, fluffy coat of fur! In all seriousness, pets are put in real danger during periods of extreme heat.

For warning signs, preventative measures and other tips about keeping your pet safe in the summer heat, read the following story:

ESSENTIAL READING: Eastern Washington temperatures are on the rise—Here’s how to protect your pets

Medications

KAPP-KVEW’s Emily Goodell spoke with pharmacists from the Yakima region who warn that sun exposure might have an impact on your medication.

ESSENTIAL READING: Yakima pharmacists warn sun, heat could damage prescription medications

Power Outages

Blackouts aren’t uncommon during the summer heat with a high volume of air conditioning systems threatening to overload the power grid. Using your AC on an intermittent basis or ‘power saver’ mode can help prevent power outages at home and in your neighborhood.

In the event of a blackout, there are a wide variety of actions to take to keep cool, prevent the heat from getting in and preserve your goods. Those measures are detailed here: Franklin PUD offers tips for the Tri-Cities during heat waves

Car Emergencies

KAPP-KVEW’S Rylee Fitzgerald breaks down the dos and don’ts of items being kept in cars during the heat.

READ: Take these items out of your car in excessive heat!

KAPP-KVEW’s Madeleine Hagen spoke with Amber Rollins, the Director of Kids and Car Safety about the dangers of keeping children safe from car-related accidents like overheating.

READ: ‘I didn’t know he was with me’ — Nonprofit director shares her story + tips to prevent hot car deaths

Sunscreen & Sunburn

When the sun shines bright, your skin is at risk. It’s important to keep note of your sun exposure as it pertains to sunburn and the use of sunscreen to prevent it.

In light of record heat in the U.K., the British Association of Dermatologists released an alert claiming that sunscreen should be your “last line of [defense] against the sun, rather than your first.” They recommend re-applying every two hours or after you exercise, exit a swimming pool or partake in other activities that can remove that layer.

If you do get a sunburn, they advise you to keep in shaded areas and wear light clothing to cover the afflicted area. Cool showers/baths, moisturizers and aloe vera gel can help. Hydration is key to healing, and if you’re severely sore, you can take ibuprofen.

Skin blisters are a sign of serious damage. At that point, you may consider consulting with a dermatologist or your primary care physician.

Impact on People Without Homes

Those without homes are at higher risk than most when temperatures reach extreme levels. Shelters tend to approach capacity and many people who live outdoors end up in emergency scenarios with fatal risks. Volunteers across the Mid-Columbia Basin will do their part to open doors and keep people without homes safe.

READ: Yakima shelter delivers water to homeless people in the heat