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Stay cool, stay safe while enjoying Independence Day
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It certainly has taken its time this year — for which we are ever-grateful — but it looks as though the heat of the summer is finally upon us. Temperatures in and around Bryan County have hovered in the upper-90s or higher the past few days, forcing heat indices well into the triple digits.

The forecast for this week has cooled off a bit — albeit barely, but last weekend’s heat wave serves as a reminder to keep in mind the health and safety of your family and pets when it gets that hot outside. The American Red Cross has the following recommendations for when the mercury starts rising:

• Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

• 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.

• Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.

• Take frequent breaks if you must work 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.

• Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles — even if you think it’s not that hot outside. According to the National Weather Service, the inside of an enclosed car parked in the sun for just 10 minutes can reach 99 degrees when it’s only 80 degrees outside.

Additionally, the ASPCA offers these tips for dealing with pets in hot weather:

• Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so make sure your furry loved one has plenty of shade and plenty of fresh, clean water.

• Be careful to not over-exercise pets, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.

• Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool — not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

• Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. Shave down to a one-inch length, never to the skin, so your dog still has some protection from the sun.

• Know the warning signs — symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit, along with an elevated body temperature of more than 104 degrees.

On another weather-related note, the weekend’s hotter-than-you-know-where’s temperatures sparked some nasty thunderstorms that have uprooted trees, knocked out power for millions and is being blamed for at least 18 deaths from New Jersey to Georgia. Sunday night was Coastal Georgia’s turn at bat. And while the power was out for 23,000 in Chatham County and another 19,000 in Effingham, Bryan County managed to get through relatively unscathed with no reports of injuries or major property damage to speak of. For that we are grateful.

We hope everyone has a safe and hopefully cool holiday. Happy Fourth of July.

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