By Mayor Lynn Stoner
Summer may be drawing to a close. But that doesn’t mean we can stop worrying about South Florida’s sizzling heat and sun. If we spend a lot of time outdoors, or even if we are just running errands on the weekends, we all need to be careful. There is a downside to our beautiful South Florida weather. Skin cancer from too much sun exposure, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions, and it’s important to remember a few important safety tips.
Always apply sunscreen. This has probably been drilled into your heads since childhood! Even if you are not going to the pool or the beach, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful, damaging rays all day, every day. That’s also true even on overcast days since clouds only block about 20 percent of the sun’s UV rays.
It goes without saying that you should never leave children or pets in an unattended vehicle, even if only for a few minutes. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 130 degrees or more when the outside temperature is only 85 degrees and, in South Florida, we’ve seen the heart-wrenching consequences of not following this important rule too many times.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include a throbbing headache, fainting, fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, drink plenty of fluids, especially sports drinks to replace lost salt and other important minerals, remove any tight or unnecessary clothing, and take a cool shower or apply a cool compress or ice towels. If such measures fail to provide relief within 15 minutes, seek emergency medical help because if left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal.
Check on family, friends, and neighbors who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat. This can include the elderly, people with physical or mental health conditions, and pregnant women. If someone doesn’t have air condition, suggest that they spend time in a library, school, mall or theater during the hottest part of the day.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, clothing. Studies show there is actually little difference in the effect on temperature between dark and light clothing. What’s important is that the clothing is loose and lightweight and that they allow airflow.
Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water. Also, if they are outdoor pets, ensure they have a shady spot to get out of the sun. Don’t let your dog linger on hot pavement, as sensitive paw pads may burn.
Summer is a great time for family vacations, trips to the beach, hanging outside with friends, and poolside barbeques. Taking a few precious moments to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the effects of the heat and sun will go a long way to ensuring our health down the road.
- The Office of the Commission is located at 400 NW 73rd Avenue, Plantation, 33317. To contact please call, 954-797-2221 or visit www.Plantation.org.