Extreme heat guide: Watching for heat-related illness, keeping pets safe and where to stay cool

June 28, 2019 03:40 PM

When temperatures rise during the summers, staying safe and cool should be top of mind. 

Below is information on how to watch for heat-related illness, stay cool and keep an eye on pets during a heat wave.

Watching for heat-related illness


According to Mayo Clinic, heatstroke occurs when the body temperature rises to 104 degrees or higher. Heatstroke can damage the brain, kidneys and muscles and requires emergency treatment.

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • High body temperature
  • Altered mental state or behavior
  • Alteration in sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Headache

Heat Exhaustion: 

Mayo Clinic says heat exhaustion occurs when people are exposed to high temperatures, along with high humidity and strenuous physical activity. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Cool, moist skin with goosebumps
  • Heavy Sweating
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapids pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Those who think they may have head exhaustion should stop all activity to rest, move to a cool place and drink cool water. 

Heat Cramps: 

Heat cramps ar involuntary muscle spasms that occur during heavy excercise in hot environments, according to Mayo Clinic. Muscles that are impacted by heat cramps include the calves, arms, abdominal wall and back.

Mayo Clinic suggests those who experience heat cramps rest, drink juice or sports drinks containing electrolytes, practice stretching and take a break from strenuous activities, move to a cool place and drink cool water.


People become dehydrated when the lose more fluid than they take in, according to Mayo Clinic. Mild to moderate deyhdration can be reversed by drinking more fluids, however, severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment. 

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion 

Where to stay cool in the Twin Cities 

Those looking for a break from the heat can stay cool at cooling stations across the metro. Both Ramsey and Hennepin counties are offering cooling centers for those in need. The cooling centers include Salvation Army buildings, libraries, recreation centers, movie theaters and shpping malls. 

Hennepin County cooling centers

Ramsey County cooling centers

Watching out for pets 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), while scorching heat can be harmful to humans, it's even more dangerous for animals. 

One of the biggest pieces of advice for keeping pets cool that is frequently shared by veterinary groups is to never leave pets alone in vehicles. 

The AMVA cited a study that reports temperatures are able to rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. While some may think cracking a window will do the trick, the AMVA advises against it. 

Minnesota does have a law on the books that prohibits pet owners from leaving dogs or cats unattended in vehicles. Those who violate that law can face a $25 fine. 

The Humane Society of America also suggests paying attention to humidity when thinking of pets. 

According to the Humane Society, animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs and if humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) emphasizes keeping an extra cautious eye on animals with flat faces due to their inability to pant effectively. 

Limiting time outside will also help keep your pet cool. 

AMVA suggests pet owners don't exercise pets during the hottest parts of the days. ASPCA also suggest limiting your pets time on hot asphalt, as it can burn paw pads. 

Lastly, as hydration is key for humans on hot days, AMVA, ASPCA and the American Humane Society all stress the importance of providing ample water for pets.



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