Hot week in Atlanta: Know what to expect this week and how to stay safe

As much of the country faces extreme heat this week, safety is paramount. Prolonged exposure to the sun can pose serious health risks. 

Health experts emphasize the importance of taking common-sense precautions, as the hot and sticky weather can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. A key concern is heat stroke, which becomes especially dangerous when internal body temperature rises too high, potentially causing critical functions to shut down.

Heat places stress on the body, making the heart and lungs work harder to ensure adequate oxygen levels. In extreme heat, the body works overtime to redirect blood flow, which can cause blood pressure to drop and put extra strain on the heart. People with cardiovascular disease are at the highest risk. 

Cooling down through sweating is crucial, but extreme humidity can reduce sweating effectiveness, leading to dehydration. The body can lose its ability to sweat and control temperature, potentially causing body temperatures to rise to life-threatening levels of 105 to 106 degrees.

Symptoms of heat stroke include dizziness, headaches, and nausea. If you see someone exhibiting these signs, get them out of the sun immediately and call for help.

Here in metro Atlanta, temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to upper-90s this week. Fairly low humidity will keep the heat index values tolerable, according to FOX 5 meteorologists. Isolated showers and thunderstorms may briefly cool down some areas throughout the week, but most areas will stay dry. 

How to stay safe during extreme heat

Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can dehydrate you.

Wear Appropriate Clothing: Dress in lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothes to help keep your body cool.

Use Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

Limit Outdoor Activities: Try to stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you need to be outside, take frequent breaks in the shade or a cool place.

Utilize Fans and Air Conditioning: Use fans and air conditioning to keep your living space cool. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider spending time in public places that do, such as shopping malls or libraries.

Take Cool Showers or Baths: Lower your body temperature by taking a cool shower or bath. You can also use damp cloths on your skin to help cool down.

Eat Light Meals: Opt for smaller, more frequent meals that are easier to digest. Avoid heavy and hot foods, as they can increase your body temperature.

Check on Vulnerable Individuals: Regularly check on elderly family members, neighbors, and those with medical conditions to ensure they are staying cool and hydrated.

Avoid Strenuous Activities: Postpone heavy exercise and physical labor until the cooler parts of the day. If you must exercise, drink water before, during, and after your workout.

Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illness: Be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, including heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and confusion. If you or someone else experiences these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

How to keep pets safe during extreme heat

Provide Plenty of Water: Ensure your pets have access to fresh, cool water at all times. Consider adding ice cubes to their water bowl to keep it cool longer.

Limit Outdoor Activities: Avoid walking or exercising your pets during the hottest parts of the day. Early morning or late evening walks are best.

Never Leave Pets in a Hot Car: Even with windows cracked, temperatures inside a car can rise rapidly and become life-threatening. Never leave your pets in a parked car.

Create Cool Spaces: Provide a shaded area or an air-conditioned room where your pets can escape the heat. Use fans or cooling mats to help keep them comfortable.

Watch for Signs of Overheating: Be aware of symptoms of heat stress in pets, such as excessive panting, drooling, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you notice these signs, take immediate action to cool your pet and contact a veterinarian.

Protect Paws from Hot Surfaces: Hot pavement, sand, and asphalt can burn your pet's paws. Test the surface with your hand; if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for them. Consider using protective booties or walking on grass.

Avoid Strenuous Exercise: Reduce vigorous activities and playtime during peak heat hours. Provide mental stimulation indoors with toys and games instead.

Provide Cooling Treats: Offer your pets frozen treats like ice cubes, frozen broth, or specially made pet-safe popsicles to help them cool down.

Groom Appropriately: Regular grooming can help remove excess fur and reduce the risk of overheating. However, avoid shaving your pet's fur completely, as it provides protection against sunburn and heat.

Monitor Vulnerable Pets: Pay extra attention to pets that are elderly, overweight, or have health conditions, as they are more susceptible to heat-related issues. Brachycephalic breeds (like Bulldogs and Pugs) are also at higher risk and need special care in the heat.

How to cool home without air conditioning

Use Fans Strategically: Place fans in windows or doorways to create cross-ventilation, pulling in cooler air from outside and pushing out warm air. Ceiling fans can also help circulate air.

Block Out Sunlight: Close curtains, blinds, or shades during the hottest parts of the day to prevent the sun from heating up your home. Consider using blackout curtains or reflective window film for added protection.

Open Windows at Night: When temperatures drop in the evening, open windows to let in cooler air. Use window fans to enhance airflow and help cool down the house overnight.

Optimize Ventilation: Keep interior doors open to allow air to flow freely between rooms. Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom to remove hot air and humidity.

Use Light-Colored Linens: Opt for light-colored and breathable bedding, such as cotton or linen sheets, which help reflect heat and keep you cooler at night.

Cook Outside or Use Small Appliances: Avoid using the oven or stove, which can generate a lot of heat. Instead, grill outside or use small appliances like a microwave, slow cooker, or toaster oven.

Turn Off Heat-Generating Electronics: Unplug electronics and appliances when not in use, as they can produce heat even in standby mode. Consider using energy-efficient LED bulbs instead of incandescent ones.

Create a DIY Air Conditioner: Place a bowl of ice or a frozen water bottle in front of a fan. The fan will blow the cool air from the melting ice, creating a refreshing breeze.

Use Reflective Materials: Place reflective materials, like aluminum foil or reflective insulation, on windows and roofs to reflect sunlight away from your home and reduce heat absorption.

Stay Hydrated and Dress Light: Keep yourself cool by drinking plenty of water and wearing light, breathable clothing. Use cold compresses or take cool showers to lower your body temperature.

RELATED: Beat the heat in Atlanta: Cooling center opens

10 Fun Ways to Stay Cool in Atlanta

Visit the Georgia Aquarium: Spend the day exploring the world's largest aquarium, home to thousands of marine animals, in a comfortably air-conditioned environment.

Take a Dip at Piedmont Park Pool: Enjoy a refreshing swim at the Piedmont Park Aquatic Center, which features a large pool and splash pad for all ages.

Explore the Atlanta Botanical Garden: Wander through the shaded paths and indoor conservatories, where you can enjoy beautiful plant displays and water features.

Cool Off at Six Flags White Water: Spend the day at this exciting water park, which offers a variety of water slides, lazy rivers, and wave pools to keep you cool.

Visit the High Museum of Art: Escape the heat by exploring the extensive art collections and exhibitions in this air-conditioned museum.

Enjoy a Movie at a Local Theater: Catch the latest blockbuster at one of Atlanta's many cinemas.

Discover the World of Coca-Cola: Learn about the history of the iconic beverage while enjoying the air-conditioned exhibits and sampling Coke products from around the world.

Go Ice Skating at Center Ice Arena: Beat the heat by hitting the ice at one of Atlanta's indoor ice skating rinks for some cool, family-friendly fun.

Take a Stroll Through Atlantic Station: This outdoor shopping and entertainment district offers shaded walkways, fountains, and plenty of places to grab a cool drink or ice cream.

Visit Fernbank Museum of Natural History: Explore fascinating exhibits on natural history, including dinosaur skeletons and cultural artifacts, in a cool, air-conditioned setting.