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Springfield-Greene County Health Department News Releases

Posted on: June 16, 2017

June 16, 2017 - Health Department warns of risk of heat illness for people and their pets

Sunglasses, sunblock, and a sunhat on a wooden surface overlooking a beach.

Springfield Animal Control had 29 reports of animals in hot cars since June 1

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department is reminding the community of the dangers of heat illness for both people and pets during this year’s first heat wave.

Although the Health Department has only taken one report of heat-related illness in a person so far this season, Springfield Animal Control has taken 29 reports of animals left in hot cars since June 1.

“We understand many families want to take pets with them while they run errands, but this sets you and your loved companion up for a bad situation. In as little as 10 minutes, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees.  Your car can quickly become a heat trap that puts your loved pet at danger of serious illness or even death,” said Erica Little, Environmental Health Administrator. 

“On a 90 degree day, leaving your pet in the car for just 10 minutes exposes your pet to temperatures of 100-110 degrees.  Keep in mind you would not stay in a car that warm, so don’t leave your beloved pet in a car that warm either. “

Follow these tips to keep animals safe in the heat:

  • Do not leave a pet unattended in a hot car.
  • Always make sure pets have access to cool, clean, fresh water as well as adequate food and shelter.
  • Walk your dog in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. If you must walk mid-day, shorten the distance. And keep your dog in the grass as much as possible, as hot sidewalks can burn the pads of their feet.
  • Do not leave a dog outdoors unattended on a chain or tether. Long-term chaining during the summer can result in countless insect bites, dehydration and heat stroke.

In people, illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke occur when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. Children, senior adults and people with chronic illness are at highest risk. 

Heat exhaustion is the most common heat-related illness and can lead to dehydration.  Symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, tiredness, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness or fainting, headache, nausea or vomiting. A person with these symptoms should move to a cool spot, rest and drink cool water. If symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour, they should seek medical attention.

Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature climbs to or above 104°F. It can be deadly. Call 9-1-1 immediately if a person has symptoms including a high body temperature, red, hot or dry skin, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion or unconsciousness.

To protect against heat-related illness:

  • Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty; avoid drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Avoid strenuous work or exercise outside during the hottest part of the day. If that is not practical, take frequent breaks and remember to drink plenty of water.
  • Stay in an air-conditioned facility; if your home is not air conditioned, visit a shopping center, public library, community center, cooling center or other air-conditioned facility.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Protect yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels). 
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
    • Infants and young children
    • People aged 65 or older
    • People who have a mental illness
    • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

For more information on staying safe in the heat and other summer-related topics, visit

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