Summer Safety Information
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Dealing with Extreme Heat
According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), extreme heat is a prolonged period of very hot weather, which may include high humidity. In Massachusetts, a “heat wave” is usually defined as a period of three or more consecutive days above 90 °F. Preparing for extreme heat is important as it can be dangerous and even life-threatening if proper precautions are not taken. Although everyone can suffer from a heat-related illness, some people may be at greater risks than others
According to the National Weather Service, heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. Even in short amounts of time, heat can have a significant impact on the body:
Check out the following tips and information to help you stay safe and cool during the summer:
Recognize the Signs of Heat
- Look for: heavy sweating during intense exercise; muscle pain or spasms
- If you have heat cramps:
- Stop physical activity and move to a cool place,
- Drink water or a sports drink,
- Wait for cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity,
- Get medical help if cramps last longer than 1 hour, you’re on a low-sodium diet, or if you have heart problems
- Look for: heavy sweating; cold, pale, and clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; muscle cramps; tiredness or weakness; dizziness; headache; fainting
- If you expect heat exhaustion:
- Move to a cool place,
- Loosen your clothes,
- Put cool, wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath,
- Sip water,
- Get medical help if you are throwing up, your symptoms get worse or symptoms last longer than one hour
- Look for: high body temperature (103°F or higher); hot, red, dry, or damp skin; fast, strong pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; passing out
- If you expect a heat stroke:
- Call 911 right away – heat stroke is a medical emergency,
- Move the person to a cooler place,
- Help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath,
- Do not give the person anything to drink
During extended periods of extreme heat, Framingham opens cooling centers across the community. In addition to being available for residents to visit, these designated facilities will have water, air conditioning, and other amenities to keep residents cool and hydrated. Cooling centers typically include the Framingham Public Library (Main Branch and McAuliffe Branch) as well as the Callahan Senior Center. Keep an eye out for emergency alerts on the City website regarding activation of cooling centers in response to extreme heat.
Children, Pets, and Vehicles
Vehicles can be very dangerous for children and animals left inside. In the summer months in New England, the temperature in a closed car can rise quickly, and the vehicle can become a deadly place for a child or animal left, even for just a moment.
To keep young children and animals safe in and around cars:
- Never leave children or animals alone in a parked vehicle, even when they are asleep or restrained, and even if the windows are open.
- Always check inside the vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away.
- If a child is missing, check your vehicle first, including the trunk.
- Do things to remind yourself that a child or animal is in the vehicle, such as placing your purse or briefcase in the back seat so you will check there when you leave the vehicle.
- Always lock your car and keep the keys out of children's reach.
- Ensure adequate supervision when children are playing in areas near parked motor vehicles.
If you see a child or animal alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible and call 911 immediately.
Remember, all children ages 12 and under should ride in the back seat, properly restrained, even during quick errand trips. Infants and toddlers should remain in rear-facing car seats until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. At a minimum, children should ride rear-facing until they are at least 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. You can find more information on child passenger safety on the DPH website.
Water and Pool Safety
Drowning is a leading cause of death among young children, nationally and in Massachusetts, with backyard pools posing the highest risk for children under age 5. To ensure a child’s safety around water:
- Supervise children in and around water at all times.
- Whenever infants and toddlers are in or around water, including the bathtub, an adult should be within an arm's length at all times providing "touch supervision."
- Completely separate the house and play area of the yard from the pool area with a fence. Consider automatic door locks or alarms to prevent access.
- Remove floats, balls, and other toys from the pool after use so children are not tempted to reach for them. After children are done swimming, secure the pool so they cannot get back in.
- Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a phone near the pool.
- For children who cannot swim, use a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. This video, created by DPH in cooperation with the USCG, can assist with proper fit testing of life jackets: https://youtu.be/1I3VZf-NqPc.
- Do not use toys such as "water wings” or "noodles” in place of life jackets. These are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
In public swimming areas:
- Select swimming sites that have lifeguards whenever possible, and swim only in designated swimming areas.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Look for signage at beaches. DPH collects beach water quality data and notifies the public about bacteria levels to minimize swimming-associated illness and injury.
Other Helpful Tips:
- Drink plenty of fluids, like water, even if you do not feel thirsty, and avoid alcoholic beverages, drinks with caffeine and large amounts of sugar — these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out.
- If you’re outside, find shade and minimize direct exposure to the sun.
- Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day, which is typically around 3 p.m.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
- If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should seek relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day in places like libraries, theaters, malls, etc.
- Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach over 100 degrees, even on a 70 degree day.
- Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
- Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Parents should limit playtime at peak sun exposure time and familiarize yourself with the signs of heat illnesses.
- Avoid burns. If playground equipment is hot to the touch, it is too hot for your child’s bare skin.