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Beat the heat: A Guide for Denver’s 100-degree days (AC, Cars, Pets, and You)

Jul 8, 2024, 5:48 PM

Beat the heat: A Guide for Denver’s 100-degree days (AC, Cars, Pets, and You)...

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Beat the heat: A Guide for Denver’s 100-degree days (AC, Cars, Pets, and You)

Denver could make weather history this week with a large ridge of high-pressure bringing temperatures in the upper 90s and low 100s for multiple days. If it reaches 100 degrees for three days in a row, it will be a unique event in Denver’s weather history.

Read more and see the history of 100 degree days in Denver from our partners at 9News here.

Beat the heat: A Guide for Denver’s 100-degree days (AC, Cars, Pets, and You)

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Your air conditioner

During the scorching summer and fall days when temperatures soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, many of us adjust the thermostat to stay cool! However, there are times when our air conditioner or heat pump struggles to combat the heat. This could indicate a need for repairs or simply that your air conditioner is maxed out. It’s important to recognize the difference. Air conditioners do have their limits when faced with extreme temperatures. Your air conditioner may be able to maintain a temperature of 77 or 78 degrees when it’s 104 degrees outside. However, it may not be able to reach 70 degrees during the peak heat of the day. If your air conditioner has trouble keeping you cool during the day but performs better at night, it could mean that it’s operating at full capacity. Prolonged extreme temperatures can create the illusion that your air conditioner isn’t working properly when it’s actually doing its best. On those rare days when your air conditioner is working at its limit, consider using a ceiling fan or room fan to enhance air circulation and improve the cooling effect.

If you need service on your AC unit, call a trusted HVAC company such as Plumbline Services.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a government program that helps people who need assistance preparing their homes for hot weather.

Your car

Make sure to keep an eye on your car during these scorching hot days, with temperatures soaring into the 90s and even reaching over 100 degrees in Denver. Don’t ignore any signs of your engine overheating, as it could lead to a trip to the repair shop if not addressed promptly.

An overheated engine can happen unexpectedly, especially on hot days and in heavy traffic.

Here are some steps to take if you notice your car starting to overheat from Consumer Reports

  1. Turn your heater on full blast. That helps drain some heat from the engine while you find a place to stop. It is a helpful little trick to use even when the temperature gauge is running high but not in the red zone.
  2. Get off the road and stop. As soon as you can, drive to a safe location and turn off the engine.
  3. Lift the hood. That will help the engine cool down faster. But don’t do it if steam is coming out. And don’t remove a hot radiator cap. Hot, pressurized coolant and steam could erupt from the radiator, burning your hands. And never add cold water to an overheated engine; the abrupt temperature change can severely damage the engine.
  4. Let the engine cool down. Normally it takes at least a half hour to an hour for a hot engine to cool down. If you want to call for roadside assistance, now’s the time. You might need a tow truck.
  5. Check the coolant tank. It’s a translucent plastic tank located under the hood, near the radiator. If it’s empty, suspect a leak, which you’ll be able to detect if there’s liquid dripping from under the engine. Engines are designed to use coolant that’s a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. If you have coolant in the right mixture, you can add it to the coolant tank or the radiator–but only after it‘s cool to the touch. If you don’t have coolant, you can simply pour water into the coolant tank so you can limp along to a repair shop. On the other hand, if there’s plenty of coolant in the tank, the overheating could be caused by an electrical or mechanical problem. Adding more coolant won’t help.
Beat the heat: A Guide for Denver’s 100-degree days (AC, Cars, Pets, and You)

(Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Your pet

The summer months can be uncomfortable—even dangerous—for pets and people. It’s difficult enough simply to cope with rising temperatures, intense heat and power outages, can end with tragic results for your pet. Here are some tips from our friend Dr. Jeff, the Rocky Mountain Vet at Planned Pethood International

Never leave your pets in a parked car

Not even for a minute! Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.

Limit exercise on hot days

Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.

Provide ample shade and water

Any time your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.

Cool your pet inside and out

Whip up a batch of quick and easy DIY pupsicles for dogs. And always provide water, whether your pets are inside or out with you.

Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest or mat. Soak these products in cool water, and they’ll stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days. If your dog doesn’t find baths stressful, see if they enjoy a cooling soak.

 Watch for signs of heatstroke

Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness.

Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke

Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck and chest or run cool (not cold) water over them. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian.

Beat the heat: A Guide for Denver’s 100-degree days (AC, Cars, Pets, and You)

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

You and heat

Here are things to watch out for with excessive heat from CommonSpirit Health.

Body temperature is a measure of how well your body can make and get rid of heat. The body is very good at keeping its temperature within a safe range, even when temperatures outside the body change a lot.

  • When you are too hot, the blood vessels in your skin widen to carry the excess heat to your skin’s surface. You may start to sweat. As the sweat evaporates, it helps cool your body.
  • When you are too cold, your blood vessels narrow. This reduces blood flow to your skin to save body heat. You may start to shiver. When the muscles tremble this way, it helps to make more heat.

Your body temperature can be measured in many places on your body. The most common ones are the mouth, the ear, the armpit, and the rectum. Temperature can also be measured on your forehead.

Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature, and body temperature continues to rise.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Unconsciousness for longer than a few seconds.
  • Confusion, severe restlessness, or anxiety.
  • Convulsion (seizure).
  • Symptoms of moderate to severe difficulty breathing.
  • Fast heart rate.
  • Sweating that may be heavy or may have stopped.
  • Skin that may be red, hot, and dry, even in the armpits.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Exertional heatstroke may develop when a person is working or exercising in a hot environment. A person with heatstroke from exertion may sweat profusely, but the body still produces more heat than it can lose. This causes the body’s temperature to rise to high levels.

Heatstroke causes severe dehydration and can cause body organs to stop functioning. Heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency, requiring emergency medical treatment.

Other things you should do when we experience extreme heat according to Yale Medicine are:

  • Drinking water and other fluids is number one in the hot weather, you need to replenish fluids lost through sweat as frequently as every hour to prevent dehydration.

Don’t rely on old standards, such as eight glasses of water a day, to guide your consumption—an athlete, for instance, will need more fluid than a sedentary person. “We generally tell people to use the color of their urine to gauge how hydrated they are,” Dr. Della-Giustina says. “If your urine is yellow, you’re already one or two liters behind. If you are drinking enough water, your urine should be clear to pale yellow.”

One of the mistakes people make is they don’t replenish the sodium they’re losing when they sweat, Dr. Della-Giustina explains. “Salt is the primary electrolyte in your blood. Allowing your sodium level to get too low can cause significant problems, including an altered mental status and even cardiovascular collapse, among other things,” he says.

Sports drinks offer the replenishment of electrolytes, including sodium, which you can’t get from water alone, he adds. “The best way to rehydrate yourself is not to drink the sports drink alone but to dilute it—half water and half sports drink. Then, you get the hydration and electrolytes you need,” says Dr. Della-Giustina.

  • You should avoid the sun as much as possible, especially between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., when people are most likely to develop heat exhaustion, Dr. Della-Giustina explains.

Anyone who must be outside in the middle of the day should take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. People who aren’t required to be outside should stay indoors as much as possible, he adds. “Athletes can be at really high risk if their mental attitude is ‘I’m just going to keep pushing myself,’” says Dr. Della-Giustina. He recommends that they train in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.

  • Loose-fitting clothing leaves room for air to circulate underneath it and allows you to sweat, and a vented hat will help release heat from your head, as well as keep the sun from beating down on your face.

Clothing that is light in color reflects the sun and deflects the heat, explains Dr. Della-Giustina. “In desert settings, many people wear large, white robes. That’s more cooling than going out in shorts and a T-shirt,” he says. Wear UV-protective clothing, if possible, since that blocks heat and prevents UV exposure, he adds.

Be safe during the extreme heat this week.

Summertime is exhausting, fun and busier than ever!

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Beat the heat: A Guide for Denver’s 100-degree days (AC, Cars, Pets, and You)