It's hard to keep coast residents and their pets indoors - even in mid-summer. Longtime dog owner and daily walker Lisa Monti offers savvy advice to stay cool and safe.
- story by Lisa Monti
My dog walking starts earlier in the summer and my bike rides are shorter when the heat really bears down like it did recently. We were only three days into official summertime this year when the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory June 24 warning of a heat index of 105 to 109 scorching degrees.
The combination of hot temps and high humidity can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but you can take simple precautions such as drinking plenty of fluids, staying in an air-conditioned room and generally staying out of the sun.
If you are spending time outside, take extra precautions like rescheduling your activities for early morning or evening, wearing light, loose fitting clothes and drinking plenty of water. If you’re working outdoors, OSHA recommends that you take a lot of breaks either in the shade or inside an air-conditioned place. Call 911 if you or someone else feels overcome by heat.
Pet owners should keep an eye on their dogs and other animals during hot weather as well. Make sure they have plenty of fresh clean water (in containers protected from the sun) and a shady place to help keep them cool. The ASPCA also advises to take care not to over-exercise your pets and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
If you’re walking your dog outdoors, the same basic safety rules apply to dogs. Exercise early or in the evening. If you’re out in the mid-day heat, walk in shaded areas so they don’t burn their paws on hot asphalt. Test pavement for heat by pressing your palm against it for seven seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it will burn your dog’s paws. If the air temperature is 87 degrees, the asphalt is 143 degrees. An egg fries in five minutes at 131F.
Some symptoms of overheating in pets, according to the ASPCA, are excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. And, of course, don’t ever leave a pet in a vehicle in the heat. In just a few minutes, the interior temperature of a closed car can shoot up. It may be a moderately hot 80 degrees outside, but in just 10 minutes, it’ll be 99 degrees inside a vehicle in 10 minutes and a deadly 114 in 30 minutes.
If you’re dog walking, you can get creative finding shade in some local spots, like the old City Park shoofly on Second Street or one of the local restaurants with outside seating (the porch and sideyard of the Mockingbird Café are local favorites. If you prefer a spot beachside, the pavilion at Washington Street offers benches along with breezes off the water.
If you’re poochless, you have even more options. The library is the perfect place to comfortably spend some cool, quiet time on a summer day and so is a local health club.
Bike riders (and walkers) can find shady stretches on streets and lots of good places to take a water break around town. I like riding down Third Street, from Washington to Bay Oaks Drive and loop back around. There’s plenty of shade in spots on both sides of Third as well as some less traveled blocks between Main and Ulman and on the grounds of the Depot.
Staying safe outdoors in the grip of summertime takes a bit of preparation but it’s worth the effort to enjoy exercising, socializing and keeping a spoiled dog happy between now and October.