For much of the country, Minnesota is known as a cold-weather state. But Minnesotans know better.
During the summer months, temperatures around the state can rise to unsafe levels. This week has seen temperatures nudge the 90-degree mark, with humidity that only adds to the danger for people and animals.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, here are some ways to stay hydrated on hot days:
• Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, throughout the day.
• Do not wait until you are thirsty before you drink fluids (except if advised to reduce fluid intake by your doctor).
• Avoid drinking alcohol.
• Avoid drinks that are high in sugar and caffeine.
• Avoid very cold drinks — they can cause stomach cramps.
Here are some other tips from the Department of Health to help people stay cool:
• Visit air-conditioned places (e.g., malls, libraries) if your home is hot.
• Do not use electric fans to cool yourself when the temperature reaches the high 90s and above. Blowing air onto your body that is higher than your body temperature can actually increase heat stress.
• Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Avoid exercising outdoors during the hottest hours of the day – usually between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
• Take a cool shower or bath.
It also helps to stay informed by listening daily to the local news for the weather forecast and adjusting activities as necessary to stay safe in the heat.
The heat also can affect pets and other animals as well.
“Dogs and other pets can quickly become dehydrated and overheated in just a matter of minutes while taking a walk or by simply playing outside,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane.
To help keep pets safe in the summer heat, here are some tips from the American Humane Rescue team:
• Never leave your pet alone in a vehicle. Leaving a pet in a car for even a short period of time can have a deadly outcome. If you see a distressed dog inside a parked car on a warm day, immediately call your local animal control or law enforcement for help and stay with the animal until help arrives.
• Adjust exercise and walking schedules to cooler parts of the day. During hot summer months, even regular exercise can be dangerous for pets, and you may have to switch up your routine for walks to take place in the morning or the evening.
• If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paws. Before taking your dog out on a walk, touch the surface of the sidewalk or street with the back of your hand. If the ground is too hot to touch for more than five seconds, this will also be the case for your pet. Have booties for your pet to wear to protect their paws or carry them to a patch of grass to relieve themselves.
• Ensure that your pets always have access to shade and fresh water while outdoors. Temperatures in your yard can increase to dangerous levels in just a few hours, and heat stroke can become a serious issue.
• Familiarize yourself with the signs of heatstroke. This can include excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and/or bleeding of the gums, lethargy, stumbling, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomit and even coma. If you think your pet might have heatstroke, take them to your veterinarian immediately.
• Learn to check your dog for possible dehydration. Gently pinch the skin over your dog’s shoulder, pull the skin away from its body, and then release it. The skin will slide right back into place if your dog is properly hydrated, but it will remain “tented” or return very slowly if your dog is dehydrated. If you think your dog is dehydrated, take them to your veterinarian immediately.
• Offer your dog a bowl of cool water to drink in small servings. If your dog swallows a significant amount of water in a short period of time, it could get sick and end up vomiting.
• Provide temporary relief to an overheated animal. Apply cool (not icy) water on your pet’s skin with either a bath, hose or sponge until medical assistance can be reached.
• If your pet showed signs of heat stroke but has been cooled and now appears fine, do not assume that all is well. Internal organs, such as the liver, kidneys and the brain, are all affected by extreme body temperature elevation, so seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible.
With August traditionally a month with high temperatures, Xcel Energy is encouraging customers to consider ways to save energy and keep their bills low.
There are a number of steps customers can take to save energy, including:
• Use blinds or curtains to regulate the temperature in your home. Close them on hot days to keep the heat out.
• Make sure exterior doors are fully closed. Exterior doors that are left cracked open or not latched can lead to a loss of cooling in the home.
• Use ceiling fans to your advantage. Ceiling fans use less energy than air conditioning and can help cool a room during warmer days. They should run counter-clockwise in the summer to circulate cooler air.
• Have air conditioner coils cleaned. Cleaned and maintained air conditioners improve efficiency and help save energy.
• Upgrade your thermostat. A programmable thermostat will let you set the temperature in your home to use less energy when you’re away. A smart thermostat will allow you to control the temperature when you’re away.
More information on ways to save energy can be found at xcelenergy.com/tips.