Watch out for this week’s heat wave

ESCANABA — With temperatures expected to be in the 80s this week, local authorities provided safety tips for people to keep in mind during the heat of the summer months.

The area experienced a sudden shift from cool to hot weather this summer. Because of this, dealing with the heat may be particularly difficult early in the season for people who are sensitive to high temperatures.

“It can definitely have an effect,” Public Health, Delta and Menominee Counties Health Educator Erin Kiraly said.

While the severity of this effect can vary from person to person, Kiraly said it will take many people a few weeks to fully adjust to these temperatures.

One important thing people can do to avoid heat stroke and other health problems over the next few months is to stay hydrated.

“Drink before you’re even thirsty,” Kiraly said.

However, not all beverages are created equal in terms of hydration. Kiraly said people should drink water and beverages with electrolytes when trying to stay hydrated, and noted beverages containing alcohol and caffeine can actually have dehydrating effects.

People should try to stay cool when they are inside and outdoors, Kiraly said.

“Make sure (you) have access to air conditioning or cool spaces,” she said.

Fans can also help area residents beat the heat while inside.

Heat can be especially problematic when combined with strenuous activity or exercise. Kiraly said people planning to do these activities in the summer should do so in the morning or evening if possible.

She also encouraged people to check on elderly family members and pay special attention to their children and pets during the summer, as they are especially sensitive to heat.

Delta County Sheriff Ed Oswald warned people in the area not to leave animals and children in parked cars.

“Definitely remember your vehicles sitting in the sun can get extremely hot,” he said.

Direct exposure to sunlight can cause a variety of health problems, including sunburns — which can contribute to conditions such as dehydration and heat stroke — and skin damage.

With this in mind, Kiraly said people should take steps to minimize their sun exposure. These steps can include seeking shaded areas while outside and wearing hats, sunglasses and light-colored, loose-fitting clothes such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

Applying sunscreen is another way people can limit the effects of sun exposure.

“We always recommend wearing sunscreen with a SPF of 50 or greater,” Kiraly said.

As sunscreen can wear off over time, it should be reapplied every two hours or right after swimming or sweating.