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Firework Safety, Extreme Heat Safety – for People & Pets

July is often synonymous with uncomfortable heat and humidity. This month’s safety article will review those amongst us who are most vulnerable to excessive heat. We will be looking at the effects of extreme heat for people as well as for pets. As this is a July safety article, we will also review safety considerations for the Fourth of July, again for both people and pets.

Heat Related Illiness 1

Extreme heat is generally defined as a period of longer than 2-3 days of high temperatures of greater than 90 degrees. For those of us who live in the Southwest, most of the summer has consecutive days of temperatures over 100 degrees.


Heat Index is a term that tries to assess the combination of both outside temperature and humidity that has a cumulative dangerous effect on the health of humans. Thus, the degree of humidity can increase the health risk when combined with the actual temperature. For example, if the outdoor temperature is 90 degrees and the relative humidity is 70%, the heat index when calculated makes that outdoor temperature of 90 degrees feel like 106 degrees.

Effects & Dangers of Heat Related Illnesses:
Prior to reviewing the various heat related illnesses, let’s review how are bodies respond to excessive heat, following the principles of heat transfer:

Heat Related Illiness

Convection: This refers to heat being carried away from your body. Heat from your body can be absorbed by the surrounding moving cooler air. This air, now warmed air, will rise. Cool air will replace warm air, and thus body heat decreases. Increasing ventilation such as a fan will aid in convection.


Radiation: Heat from the skin radiates from your skin toward objects in the room. If these objects are hot, heat will radiate towards you. If the objects are cool, heat will radiate away from you. Ventilation removes heat from ceilings, walls, and contents of a room, thus allowing a person to cool off.

Perspiration: Heat results in sweating, sweat evaporates, evaporation cools the skin. High environmental temperatures along with high humidity prevent adequate evaporation, and thus impairs cooling of the skin.

Vulnerable populations for heat related illnesses are infants and children aged 4 and younger. Adults, sixty five and older, overweight people, people with chronic illness and people who cannot compensate for heat related health effects due to specific medications (for example certain antidepressants, antihistamines, antipsychotics, diuretics.) Check with your medical provider for specific questions regarding medications.

Attached to the end of this article is a chart from the CDC describing signs of heat related illnesses and what to do. Specifically Heat Stroke, Heat Exhaustion and Heat Cramps.

Effects of sunburn are also reviewed.

symptoms of heat related illness

If you see someone who may have symptoms of heat related illness:

  • Move the person to a shady Call 911 immediately.
  • Cooling is vital: Find a cool shower, tub of water, spray with garden hose, or sponge off.
  • Monitor body temperature with the goal of getting to under 102
  • Call the Emergency Room for guidance if the emergency response team is

Remember, whether you are an outdoor worker, a teenager at football practice in the heat, young or old, or any outdoor activity in the heat:

  • Dress appropriately, in light weight loose fitting clothing.
  • Try to time your outdoor activity to early morning or late afternoon.
  • Stay cool and hydrated.
  • Locate shade where you can cool off.
  • Apply sunscreen before you leave home so that you can cool off properly.
  • To avoid sunscreen washing off, be sure it is waterproof.
  • To avoid sunscreen interfering with sweating, make sure it is also sweatproof.
Pets & Kids in Hot Car

A specific reminder about children and pets and your car: NEVER leave children or pets in your car even if the windows are open “a crack”. A recommended handy tip to remind yourselves to look in the back seat when you are about to exit your car, is placing a child or pet’s toy or another object in the front seat. That object will be a reminder there is a child or pet in the car and to take them with you. Slogans like “Look before you lock “and “When there’s heat check the back seat” are helpful reminders as well.

For your pets:
Pets are vulnerable to heat related illnesses as well. Signs of heat stroke in a pet are obvious lethargy, weakness, panting, extreme thirst, weakness. If your pet is exposed to excessive heat and has any of these signs, move your pet to a cool location. Place cool wet compress on your pet’s belly, paws, and neck. Equally important, contact your veterinarian.

Attached to this article is a very thorough PDF from The AZ Humane Society about pet safety in the summer.

Pets & Hot Weater

Firework Safety:
The awe of sitting on a blanket, watching dazzling brilliant colors form patterns in the night sky is undeniable. The horror, however, of sustaining injuries from improper use of firecrackers, conversely, is a major safety issue. The statistics on firework injuries are sobering. Fireworks are associated with close to 20,000 fires yearly. This is particularly concerning when we factor the additional severity of outdoor fires due to increased outdoor temperatures (heat), dry brush or grass (fuel), wind and readily available air (oxygen) which readers may recall is the fire triangle.


The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management issues warnings about conditions in the state are a concern for fire, as well as fire activity in the state. Also sobering are statistics that over one third of fireworks works injuries are children under age 15. For all these reasons, the National Fire Protection Association recommends that fireworks be left to the professionals. The Transportation Security Laboratory Department (TSL) of Homeland Security focuses on threat detection and safety measure technology, related to working with explosives. This agency has created a list designed to keep consumers safe if they handle fireworks. Given the training of the professional workers compared to lay people, underscores the recommendation to leave fireworks to the professionals.

  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water/hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Designate a safety perimeter. If you have ground-based fireworks like a fountain, spectating from at least 35 feet away is best. For aerial fireworks, you’ll want everyone to move back to a distance of around 150 feet.
  • Ditch faulty fireworks. Sometimes fireworks don’t go off, but duds always pose a risk. The important thing to know is that you should never try to light or approach a failed firework. Let the duds sit for 5 -10 minutes before you put them in a bucket of water. This can prevent injury from a delayed explosion and disarm the firework permanently so you can safely dispose of it.
  • Supervise children when they are handling Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet or touching body parts.
  • Don’t forget about your pets! Fireworks can be extremely stressful for pets, but there are ways to help reduce their fear and anxiety. Keep your pets indoors. Close the curtains or blinds and turn on the TV or radio to provide some distraction. Treating toys filled with their favorite food (frozen pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and apple sauce is good options) may also help keep their minds busy and distract them from the fireworks.
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.
  • Never place a part of your body directly over a firework or hold a firework in your hand when lighting. To safely light fireworks, make sure they are secured on the ground away from people and animals and use a stem lighter such as a grill lighter.
  • Only light one firework at a time. Lighting multiple fireworks at the same time increases the risk of accidents occurring from the fuse burning faster than
  • Avoid alcohol consumption when handling or using This should be pretty self-explanatory.
  • Consider safe alternatives to fireworks such as party poppers, bubbles, silly string, or glow sticks.

In addition to these tips, follow all manufacturer’s guidelines for consumer safety: Purchase firecrackers only from licensed facilities. Do not buy fireworks from someone’s home, or a street vendor. Fireworks approved by The Consumer Product Safety Commission have bright coloring and bright colored packaging and warnings concerning hazards as well as function of the product. Never buy fireworks wrapped in brown paper.

Be sure to consult your state and local laws as private firework usage may be restricted in your area. Arizona law forbids explosive fireworks and aerial fireworks such as roman candles, bottles, and skyrockets. The only legal fireworks in Arizona are ground explosives. Arizona law restricts firecracker use to 4th of July and New Year holidays.

Pets and Fireworks


Dogs and Cats are affected by loud noises and crowds. The advice, which is summarized in the list above (Item 4), as well as the attached article from the ASPCA, reviews suggestions to relieve pet anxiety. Do not bring pets to Fourth of July fireworks or busy crowded events. Prepare your pet for the loud noise of fireworks in advance by selecting a quiet comforting setting. If your home is the site of a large crowd, also prepare a quiet, safe setting for your pet. Plan a visit to your veterinarian for discussion of medication if environmental adaptations have not been successful to relieve anxiety. If you must take your pet with you, be sure to have identifiers for your pet. A spike in lost dogs is reported by animal shelters every Fourth of July.


A closing word on Sparklers:

If using sparklers have first aid for burns available in the home. If a burn is serious or involves the eyes go to the Emergency Room.

Stand 10 feet away from sparklers.

Children under 12 years should not use sparklers.

Sparklers can reach a temperature as hot as 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful! Always hold sparklers away from the face and at least arm’s length away from the body. Wear shoes when using sparklers.

Never hold more than one sparkler at a time Stand 10 feet away from sparklers.

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