Roving Reporter | "NWS Heat Index, and Heatstroke Risks" | Shared by Susan O'Neill

"It's summertime in Texas and you know what that means: hot days, not quite so hot nights, and respite only through air conditioning, fans, deep shade, and (if you are lucky) the cooling waters of a pool or the beach.

Our high humidity alters how our bodies feel and respond to the heat, making the "real" temperature feel hotter and our bodies respond accordingly. The Heat Index is a calculation based on the interplay of temperature and humidity and whose result tells us "but it really feels THIS hot."

With soaring daytime temperatures, it is important to respect this Index or risk heatstroke. Heatstroke affects both humans and animals, so watch out for your pet's well-being, too. And remember, your pets have the added challenge of fur coats. Generally speaking, it is natural to perspire as your body attempts to cool itself. If you are hot and notice that your sweating has stopped, it's time to get inside and rehydrate.

Below is a Heat Index chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), plus some information about the symptoms and treatment of heatstroke in humans (from the Mayo Clinic) and in animals (from the Humane Society). Best wishes for a great, safe and healthy summer." - Susan O'Neill

Symptoms of Heatstroke
By Mayo Clinic Staff

Heatstroke symptoms include:
  • High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke. 
  • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke. 
  • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist. 
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit. 
  • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases. 
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow. 
  • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body. 
  • Headache. Your head may throb.

When to see a doctor
If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number. Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
  • Get the person into shade or indoors.
  • Remove excess clothing. 
  • Cool the person with whatever means available — put in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person's head, neck, armpits and groin.

Heatstroke, Pets
Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.

Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke
Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over your pet. Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take your pet directly to a veterinarian.

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