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Tips for Staying Safe in WA’s Hot, Smoky Summer

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SEATTLE — An unprecedented heat wave in Washington state has underscored the importance of staying safe when it’s hot.

Places such as Seattle reached record highs in late June, with two months of summer still to go.

Dr. Scott Itano, a family medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente in Seattle, offered tips for beating the heat.

“First off, I think prevention is probably the best thing,” Itano recommended. “If you don’t have to go outside in the heat, then try to stay indoors in a cool environment. Also, drink extra water. You’re going to be losing more water, getting more dehydrated.”

Itano suggested when outside, limit exposure to the sun and wear light clothing, and limit the intensity of exercise. He emphasized people should be mindful of the signs of heat exhaustion; nausea, dizziness, cramps or a headache.

Itano added lightheadedness, an abnormal or fast heartbeat or feelings of confusion could be signs of a heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. He advised people with severe symptoms to go to an urgent care facility.

Rising temperatures also raise the threat of wildfires. Itano noted Washingtonians should be careful when there is smoke in the air, and watch out for eye, nose or throat irritation.

“If you’re having lung symptoms, so problems breathing, wheezing, coughing, or heart issues,” Itano outlined. “You may get chest pain or elevated heart rate, or just not feel like yourself. Those are the most important things to look out for.”

He stressed children have less resilience to heat and smoke, and so parents and guardians should minimize their exposure to such threats as much as possible. Itano cautioned his advice could continue to stay relevant in future summers as the effects of climate change intensify.

Photo Credit: Experts expect another active wildfire season this year in the West. (Alex/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff
Eric Tegethoff

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

Eric Tegethoff

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

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