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Our Opinion: Play it safe

June 11, 2002

With temperatures already soaring over 100 degrees, it is a good time to talk about heat safety. It's a dangerous time in the Imperial Valley and it's important not to take the heat for granted — even if you have lived in it for years.

Heat exhaustion and worse, heat stroke, can overtake you before you know it. Heat illness can happen quickly when temperatures crack 100 degrees, and last week we saw temperatures as high as 115 degrees here.

But life must go on in the Imperial Valley, heat or no heat. We have people in here who must work outdoors just as they would if they lived in more temperate locations. There are construction workers, maintenance workers, police and firefighters and many others who have little choice but to spend time in the heat.

Then there are kids, who are out of school for the summer and simply cannot stay indoors. Even during the hottest times of the day youths can be found on their bikes or skateboards making their way around town.

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If you are going to be outdoors for any time at all you must be safe. Drink plenty of water, wear hats and limit the amount of strenuous activity at the hottest part of the day.

Parents should consider placing their children in some kind of summer day camp activity or at least make sure their kids have access to public swimming pools. Swimming pools are critical during the summer in the Valley to keeping kids happy and healthy.

Everyone out in the heat needs to pay attention to how they are feeling. Sweating is OK; it means your body processes are working properly. However, if you have a headache, feel nauseous or dizzy, those are signs it's time to get out of the heat and maybe get help. And when the sweating stops and a dry heat overtakes you, it is a dangerous stage.

This is no joke. Even if you have lived in the Valley awhile and feel like you have a summer routine down, it doesn't mean you should take chances. If you like to walk, for example, do it either early in the morning or after dark. Let those temperatures cool and the sun slumber before you do any exercise.

And don't forget about your pets. They need protection and relief from the heat, too, which means they need plenty of water, shade, and, whenever possible, admittance to the air-conditioned house.

One final message: We know there are those who sometimes find themselves questioning how they can pay for food, medical costs and other expenditures, along with paying power bills that rise during the summer. There are those who may choose to live without air conditioning because of such costs. That is not necessary. Contact the Imperial Irrigation District. Find out about programs that can help. Don't endanger yourself or your family.

And have a safe, fun summer.

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