Beat the heat
Tips for keeping safe during excessively hot weather from the American Red Cross:
• If you suspect heat injury, call for help.
• Children and the elderly are among the most vulnerable.
• Try not to work outside in the hottest part of the day; if you must work in the heat, slow down.
• When outdoors, take frequent breaks in the shade.
• Drink plenty of water.
• If you wait until you feel thirsty, you’re already getting dehydrated.
• Don’t drink beverages containing caffeine or alcohol (colas or beer). They interfere with the body’s temperature-regulating mechanisms.
• Sweating is the body’s mechanism for cooling. If you stop sweating, call for help.
• Be prepared by checking the forecast and the UV index on our weather page.
• Wear sunscreen every day, even if you’re only going from house to car and car to office.
• Look for broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. The key ingredients? Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or Parsol 1789. And never dip below SPF 15.
• Protect the oft-neglected eyelids, earlobes and lips. Women develop fewer skin cancers on their lips than men do because they enjoy the physical protection of lipstick.
• Cover up your kids. Children especially need sunblock – two-thirds of sun damage happens before the age of 15. But don’t put sunscreen on babies under 6 months of age; keep them out of direct sunlight.
• Replace your sunscreen annually. Unopened, sunscreen has a shelf life of up to three years. Once opened, the SPF starts breaking down. It’s a good idea to buy new products at the beginning of each summer.
• Complete all outdoor activities before 10 a.m. or start them after 4 p.m. to avoid the sun at its strongest.
• Get to know your skin. Practice self-exams to familiarize yourself with your own landscape. That way, you can more easily notice mole changes such as growing, bleeding or crusting. Have a skin cancer-related checkup, including a complete skin examination as recommended by theAmerican Cancer Society every three years for people between 20 and 40 years of age, and every year for anyone 40 and older.
Watering restrictions are in effect in most of South Florida, including Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties. Check the South Florida Water Management District site for current rules and updates or call (800) 662-8876.
For lawn and landscaping advice, call the Palm Beach County Extension Service at (561) 233-1750, the Martin County Extension Service at (772) 288-5654 or the St. Lucie County Extension Service at (772) 462-1660.
The city of Stuart has a 24-hour water restrictions hotline, (772) 600-1280, where residents can speak with an attendant or report a violation.
For updates on statewide soil dryness, check the Keetch Byram Drought Index (KBDI).
• Get a rain gauge. One inch of rain per week is generally sufficient for lawns and gardens. Supplement only when rainfall is inadequate.
• Use mulch around landscape plantings. Mulch will help eliminate weeds and hold moisture in the soil.
• Running a hose for one hour uses 375 gallons. Water your lawn during the cool part of the day to avoid rapid evaporation.
• Raise the height on your lawn mower. This promotes healthier grass that can better survive dry periods.
• When watering is necessary, water slowly and thoroughly. If you notice puddles or runoff, turn off the water and wait for it to soak in. Be sure your sprinkler puts water where you need it, not on driveways or sidewalks.
Wildfire destroys hundreds of homes and buildings every year. If you clear flammable vegetation from the vicinity of your structure, you can reduce the risk of destruction by wildfire as much as 70 percent.
If you live near wooded areas, be ready to evacuate during fire season. Tune your radio to fire reports and listen for the order to evacuate. Don’t be a hero. When firefighters tell you it’s time to go, they mean it. Until then, learn to protect your home.
For important safety tips, check online at Florida’s Division of Forestry or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For general fire prevention resources go to the U.S. Fire Administration home page.