Firefighters remind residents, alert tourists to triple-digit dangers

The heat is on in Southern Arizona.  (Source:  KOLD News 13)
The heat is on in Southern Arizona. (Source: KOLD News 13)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2019 at 5:06 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The triple-digits have finally arrived in Tucson and they won’t be leaving any time soon.

“It’s no joke here. We talk about it being a dry heat, but it’s a heat, nonetheless," said Captain Brian Keeley, a spokesperson for the Northwest Fire District.

While many think they are ready to handle the heat that comes with living in the desert, Keeley said there are important reminders for everyone, either a visitor to the area of longtime resident.

The firefighter warned it may take some time for your body to adjust to a daily routine in the summer heat.

[ Ultimate guide to protecting you, your pets from high temperatures ]

“The simple rules are stay cool and hydrate yourself. You need to drink a lot more water," said Keeley. "If you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated.”

“Stay indoors as much as possible, stay in the shade wherever possible. Wear light, cool clothing," said Keeley.

Stay Cool

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.
  • Find an air-conditioned shelter.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths.
  • Check on those most at-risk twice a day.

“Think of the long-term effects as well. Wear your sunscreen, wear a hat when your outside," Keeley said. "Just protect yourself from the dangers both short-term and long-term that come from the heat and sun exposure in this town.”

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink more water than usual
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids
  • Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar
  • Remind others to drink enough water

Local agencies responded to at least two reported hiker rescues Sunday, with both hikers calling for help due to the heat in the area of Sabino Canyon. Keeley said if you are doing activities outside, you should try to get them down in the early morning hours or later in the evening.

Stay Prepared

  • Know your limits.
  • Hike with someone familiar with the trail.
  • Let friends or family know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Take plenty of water, approximately one liter per hour. Also, avoid alcohol the night before and drink before the hike.
  • Take food with you.
  • Wear proper clothing and shoes. You should wear hiking boots, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. The sun can be intense.
  • Have a fully charged cell phone.
  • Take a first aid kit, which should include epipens, band aids and antibiotic ointment.
  • Avoid hiking at night. It’s easy to get lost and wildlife including snakes come out at night.

With the high temperatures, it is important to remember your car will heat up even quicker this week. Keeley said small adjustments you think you are doing to help combat the heat may not be helping at all.

“Cracking your window really makes no difference on the internal temperature. Parking in the shade has some effect, but not enough so it’s not longer life-threatening," said Keeley. "The temperature inside a vehicle can jump 20, 30, 40 degrees in as little as ten to thirty minutes, so it can become a life-threatening situation in an extremely short amount of time.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees inside a car in as little as 30 minutes when the outside temperature is 85 degrees.

[ Firefighters warn of hot car, heat stroke dangers as temperatures rise ]

“Children, the elderly and animals cannot dissipate heat as well as an average adult can, so the heat effects them a lot quicker than it effects us," Keeley said.

He suggested touching the seat belts or buckles on a car seat before strapping a child in, because the metal may be too hot and burn them.

Keeley urged parents and caretakers to place something in the backseat of the car to remind them a child or pet may be there. It can be as simple as placing a purse or your cell phone there before driving to your next destination.

“I think we all just need to realize that as a society we’re very busy,” said Keeley. “We all, of course me included, would say ‘I would never, ever forget my child in the back of the car.' Bu, the reality is, so often when we see these things happen, it is that true, honest mistake.”

[Look Before You Lock]

You will also want to remember how warm things around your home can get. Things like artificial turf, playground equipment and even water from the hose outside your home can burn you if it is in the sunlight.

“When we talk about walking your pets, if you can’t hold your hand on the sidewalk for more than a couple of seconds because of the heat, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on it," said Keeley.

[ Protecting Your Pets ]

Sidewalks and asphalt spend most of the day baking in the sun so they can be too hot for their paws, which are more sensitive than human hands.

Most pet stores sell dog booties for their protection, but veterinarians recommend pets stay out of the heat during the hottest part of the day.

Copyright 2019 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.