PITTSBURG — It’s gradually getting warmer in Pittsburg and on Saturday, the Weather Channel predicts a high of 86°F.
But as the phrase goes, there’s a catch to everything, and although the heat and summer vacation time give a reason to swim or picnic, they can also lead to unintended consequences if the proper safety precautions aren’t followed.
CHILD AND ANIMAL SAFETY
For a mother near Rose Hill, Kansas, one of these consequences was the death of her 3-month-old daughter. According to the Associated Press, the girl died after her mother left her in a hot car and was pronounced dead at the scene, after her mom called 911.
According to Pittsburg Deputy Police Chief Tim Tompkins, leaving a child in a car in the heat can be deemed child endangerment and result in legal consequences. However, in Pittsburg, Tompkins says it’s more common for a parent to accidentally lock their child in a car as opposed to deliberately doing it.
“The few times that we've had calls where a child's been left in a vehicle usually is a parent in the process of loading something at the grocery store,” Tompkins said. “They put the child in; they're putting groceries in and kids get to playing with buttons and they inadvertently lock the car with the keys inside. We've had obviously frantic parents very concerned to go down there.”
Children are not the only ones who can suffer from being left in cars over the summer. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles.
Leaving a pet in a hot car can open an investigation and result in charges of animal cruelty, according to Tompkins. If a child or an animal is left in the car, regardless of it’s deliberately or accidentally, Tompkins says to call 911 right away.
Rising temperatures can create other complications for dogs, too.
“A really big one over the summer is the heat,” said Shamber Hubbard, manager of the SEK Humane Society. “People let their dogs get too hot, not just in vehicles, but out doing activities.”
Hubbard said to accommodate for the heat, the humane society shelter provides dogs with kiddie pools, fresh water and dog houses covered by some sort of shade over the summer.
From her experience, Hubbard recommends dog owners provide plenty of water and shade, keep dogs off of hot surfaces, monitor paws, watch for panting or wobbly legs and go to the vet if any concerns do arise.
In the summertime, the roads also increase in bicycle traffic. Tompkins said drivers need to be more vigilant, and bicyclists to make sure their bicycles are in working order.
“Folks need to remember that bicyclists have the right to the lane of traffic just like a vehicle has the right to the lane of traffic,” Tompkins said. “If that means slowing down because traffic is heavy before you pass a bike, then so be it. Make sure you give them their safe space as well.
In Via Christi’s Emergency Room during the summer, nurse manager Jessica Cobb said she sees many people come in with heat exhaustion.
“I think people just forget,” Cobb said. “You’re outside and you’re busy… you’re sweating a lot and you’re losing a lot of that body water and electrolytes and you just don’t think about the fact that you need to be constantly drinking.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of heat exhaustion include fainting or dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea or vomiting, a rapid or weak pulse, muscle cramps and clammy skin. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can result in symptoms of body temperature above 103°, loss of consciousness or even death.
According to Dr. Timothy Stebbins, the best ways to prevent heat injuries include drinking an adequate amount of fluid, taking rest breaks, reapplying sunscreen and keeping a normal diet.
“The more you're sweating, the more you need to drink,” Stebbins said. “If you are in the heat and you’ve stopped sweating, you need to stop what you’re doing.”
Summer also brings an increase in sports injuries such as tendinitis, sprains, strains, fractured wrists and dislocated shoulders, according to Dr. Terry Schwab, general orthopedic surgeon at Via Christi.
Schwab said it’s important to warm up and stretch before physical activity.
“Stretching prevents injuries and it’s good for non-athletes, too,” Schwab said. “If your muscles are tight, you can have other injuries develop as a result of that. Before work or during work, it’s beneficial as well.
In any case, Stebbins and Schwab both say people shouldn’t hesitate to get help if they feel they’re in danger, and their clinics are open to anyone who’s in concern.
“People die every day of preventable things or things we could have reversed because they just deny their way out of it,” Stebbins says. “Everybody has a different level of what crosses over their concerns. If it crosses over your level of comfort, you probably ought to be checked out.”