County health officials urge caution during extreme heat

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health is urging caution and common sense during the period of extreme heat currently being experienced in the region.

“Our region experiences extreme heat almost every year and it’s important to observe common sense precautions whenever this happens,” Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the department, stated in a news release.

Whenever temperatures rise above 95 degrees, the Department of Public Health recommends the following:

• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

• Spend as little time as possible in the sun and keep activity levels to a minimum.

• Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages, especially those without sugar or caffeine.

• Take regular breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned room.

• Eat light, easily digested foods, avoiding hot, heavy, or greasy meals.

• Be sure not to leave food unrefrigerated for long — food spoils rapidly in the heat.

• Take care of those who might not be aware of the danger or able to react accordingly — especially young children and the elderly. Check on your neighbors and relatives if they may be vulnerable or do not have air conditioning.

• Use air-conditioning whenever in a vehicle or roll down the windows if there is no air conditioning.

• Never leave a child or a pet in a parked car without air conditioning.

• Know the signs of heat exhaustion. If someone becomes dizzy, nauseated, or sweats heavily, find a cooler location for him or her immediately.

• Know the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion. The symptoms are similar to heat exhaustion, but also include hot, flushed skin, and normally sweating stops. If heat stroke is a possibility, call 911 immediately. Heat stroke is life threatening.

If a person is unable to keep his or her residence cool and needs a cooling center, that person is urged to call the United Way of Greater Saint Louis by dialing 211 from his or her home landline phone, or by dialing (800) 427-4626 from any other type of phone.

In addition, Cool Down St. Louis helps area seniors and the disabled with their air-conditioning and utilities — qualifications apply. Low-income households may also apply for utility assistance.

For more information about Cool Down St. Louis and its programs, call (314) 241-7668 or visit

Residents are also urged to consider pets whenever temperatures rise. Here are some tips for protecting pets during hot weather:

• Regularly check a pet’s water to make sure it’s clean and fresh. Ample drinking water is vital to animals during hot and humid conditions. Make sure to adjust the drinking quantity for the size and number of pets in the area. You can also spray your pet with water to cool them off.

• Provide a shady spot for pets. A pen near trees will work or you can fasten a sunroom screen to the sides and top of the pen to provide shade too.

• Never leave your pet unattended in a hot vehicle. Internal vehicle temperatures can reach 150 degrees.

For more information about heat safety, visit the department’s Heat Safety Tips webpage at