Column: Stay safe during hazardous hot weather

Submitted photo.
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown

For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up with the temperatures outside, the National Weather Service has got North Texas under a hazardous weather outlook through at least Wednesday. It’s more than just hot, it’s dangerously hot if you’re not taking the right precautions.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross for staying safe during the heat:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. 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.
  • Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
  • If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should choose places to go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (such as schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

Everybody should know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke – and you need to know what to do if you see someone with them. Signs of heat exhaustion can include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; cramps; headache; nausea; dizziness; and weakness. Get the person to a cooler spot and apply cool, wet towels to their skin. Fanning them will help cool them off and have them slowly drink some cool water. Keep a close eye on them and don't hesitate to call 9-1-1 if they don't show signs of improvement.

A person suffering a heat stroke will have hot, red skin that can be dry or moist. They'll exhibit changes in consciousness and may be vomiting. They will have a high body temperature. Heat stroke is life-threatening and you need to call 9-1-1 immediately to get them help. Until that help gets there, move them to a cool place and quickly cool them down until help arrives.

You can find more details on the Red Cross website, and you also may want to download the Red Cross’ free emergency app to your mobile phone, which’ll put these tips and more in close reach in case you need them.

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed Look Before Your Lock in this column. I’m reminding everybody again to make sure you get into the habit of looking in the back seat before you step away from your vehicle. We don’t want to be answering calls about children and pets who’ve been forgotten in cars. It’s far too easy in this type of weather for a moment’s neglect to turn into a tragedy none of us will get over. Let’s all get through this summer safely.

Please, everyone, let’s keep our military and service personnel in our thoughts and prayers. We enjoy our rights and freedoms because of their service and safekeeping of our great nation. Y’all have a Blessed Week.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.