Once again, we didn’t ease into summer here in Chicago. We went from still needing sweaters or jackets in late May straight to some dangerously humid and hot 90-plus degree days. When the extreme heat arrives, so do some unfortunate incidents where babies, the elderly and pets succumb to the heat. Sadly, at least some of these incidents were completely preventable.
The saddest stories are those of children or animals locked in cars, windows cracked or not, and left enclosed long enough to cause heat-related illnesses, often followed by death. We are not even at the hottest part of the summer yet, and already there have been several stories that made the national news. Two such items happened earlier this week.
This past Tuesday afternoon in North Fort Worth, TX, a 21-year-old mother left her 2-month-old daughter locked inside her car while she shopped at Wal-Mart. Thanks to a woman who noticed the baby in the car, and her father who called 911 and broke out the back window to get the baby to safety, this story had a mostly happy ending.
The other story did not have a happy ending at all. Eight show dogs were left in a cargo van overnight by the professional handler who had shown them last weekend. The handler claimed to have set up electric fans, left the van doors open and checked on the dogs during the night. Unlikely. On Monday morning, the dogs were in severe distress. Seven of the dogs died of heat stroke, and the eighth, as of this writing, is still in critical condition.
to add contact information for Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office from Kinship Circle:
7/4/09: Seven Dogs Perish, Trapped Inside Hot Van
I am horrified at any incident where a baby or child is put in danger in a hot, locked car. I am mystified at one of Oprah’s shows this week, where the main guest was a woman who “forgot” her baby in the car for eight hours, and the theme was not “baby killer” but more like “stressed out moms who make mistakes.” Since I am not a mother myself, I guess I should not say more than that.
But I am a showdog mom, and the story of the “professional” handler who put her clients’ dogs in harm’s way hits me hard because I can actually imagine being one of the dog owners who got that awful call. Or in this case, the courtesy of a call wasn’t even given to some of the dog owners, who had to find out via the news media that their beloved dogs were dead.
I’ll probably have more to say on show dogs and handlers later. But right now, since temperatures are still in the red zone, stay cool and stay safe with some tips from The Weather Channel and the American Kennel Club.
For humans, The Weather Channel has a number of summer safety and health articles. Extreme Heat Health Emergency tells us what to do for these heat-related ailments:
Heat cramps: Rest in a cool place, drink cool water (or juice or a sports drink), and avoid strenuous activity for a few hours.
Heat exhaustion: Rest in a cool place, loosen clothing and apply cool damp cloths (or take a cool shower), and drink cool beverages. Seek medical attention if nausea occurs.
Heat stroke: CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT GIVE LIQUIDS. Cool the victim as swiftly as possible in a cool bath or shower, or with a garden hose.
The Weather Channel also has some pet related health and safety article, as does the American Kennel Club’s website. Check out their Summer Safety Tips, particularly on how to recognize the signs of heat stroke:
Early stages: Heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive drooling, bright red gums and tongue, standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.
Advanced stages: White or blue gums, lethargy, unwillingness to move, uncontrollable urination or defecation, labored, noisy breathing, shock.
Get the dog to a vet immediately, and in the meantime, cool it down:
– Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog’s paw pads.
– Apply ice packs to the groin area.
– Hose down with water.
– Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
– Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.
(NaBloPoMo | June ’09: 26 of 30 | 75% Challenge: 153 of 274)