Scorching heat brings increased risks

We are told by just about anyone whose job it is to predict weather that we will experience the hottest temperatures of the year so far this weekend, with the thermometer climbing into the mid-to-upper 90s and the heat index (how hot it feels outside) reaching triple digits during the mid-to-late afternoon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

As always, with extreme heat comes risks for the most vulnerable — namely children, the elderly and animals.

But by following a few tips from the National Weather Service, you can minimize the risks for something tragic happening.

First and foremost, the best way to deal with the heat is to stay indoors if you can, preferably some place with air conditioning. If your home does not have AC, heading out to places like supermarkets, restaurants and department stores with AC is a good idea — at least during the warmest parts of the day. Simply, if you don’t have to be outside, then don’t be outside. Avoid outdoor activities if possible.

For those who have to be outdoors for work, the most important thing is to stay hydrated, which means drinking water and sports drinks (not soda or energy drinks) and doing so before you feel thirsty. It is also advisable to take breaks in the shade whenever possible and to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and covering any exposed skin with a sun block with a sun protection factor of at least 30.

And if you have to travel anywhere in your vehicle, never leave children or pets unattended. Even with the windows down, temperatures in the vehicle can still easily exceed 100 degrees, which is dangerous for children and animals. It’s best for the pets or children to stay home. If the kids must come along, bring them inside.

It’s also vital to look before locking the door to make sure no one has been accidentally locked inside the car — even at home because children sometimes like to play in cars without parents realizing it until it’s too late. Nine children in the U.S. have already perished in hot cars this year, and, obviously, no one wants to have his or her son or daughter added to the list.

Check in on sick or elderly friends, family and neighbors. Temperature extremes have the potential to negatively affect the elderly the most.

And make sure any animals that live outdoors have access to shade and plenty of drinking water.

Finally, do not hesitate to call 911 if there is truly an emergency this weekend, whether related to the heat or not.

With a bit of preparedness, the heat wave can be nothing more than a nuisance.

Here’s hoping everyone stays cool this weekend.