Benton, Franklin Co. heat wave increases risk of fires, heat-related illness

Benton County

KENNEWICK, Wash. — As temperatures push above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Benton County and Franklin County, local authorities are warning at-risk community members of fire danger and heat-related illness that thrive under harsh, warm conditions.

Benton County officials say that fire danger is high in the region and will be until further notice. Therefore, a recreational/residential burn restriction is in place for the county. During times of high fire danger, the risk of wildfires in the area is increased. The combination of windy conditions, powerful heat, and lots of fuel from mature grassland and other combustible materials make wildfires difficult to control.

With that in mind, community members are being urged to be careful with lighters, cigarettes, barbecues, and any other fire sources during this summertime heat wave.

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Public health officials from the Benton-Franklin Health District offered a multitude of ideas to help their community beat the heat this summer. Their array of tips include the following:

  • Avoid being outdoors as much as possible. Restrict strenuous activities like exercise or yard work to the early morning hours.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, and long, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing
  • Drink lots of fluids, but avoid drinks that contain alcohol, caffeine, or large amounts of sugar
  • Don’t leave any people or pets in vehicles, even for a few minutes
  • Check frequently on people who are elderly, ill, or in need of assistance
  • Find air-conditioned public places like libraries and shopping malls

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By following these guidelines, you can avoid heat-related illnesses. You may be particularly at risk of these conditions if you are elderly, overweight, a young child, or are on certain medications. Friendly reminder that children’s bodies heat up at three to five times faster than adults.

Signs of heatstroke include reduced sweat with red, dry, hot skin and a body temperature in excess of 103. Severe symptoms include fainting, serious headaches, nausea, vomiting, and a rapid pulse.

Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, a faint or dizzy feeling, nausea, vomiting, and muscle cramps. Please take note that a person facing heat exhaustion may actually have cool, pale, and clammy skin with a weak and rapid pulse. The best way to beat heat exhaustion is to find a cooler place, drink water, use a cold rag/cloth to cool yourself down, or by taking a cold shower.

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