Trying to beat the heat this summer?

By Ed Brock

Summer only started four days ago but already it's hot enough for Renee Scott.

"It gets hard to breath with the heat like that so I try to stay inside a lot," said 43-year-old Scott.

"I don't think it's the heat so much as all the cars," chimes in her daughter, 26-year-old Patrice Scott.

Both women live in Jonesboro now but once lived near Savannah in an area with less traffic. Either way, Renee Scott said, it's hot.

The high temperatures are expected to hover around 90 degrees for the next week, normal temperatures for this time of year, said Lance Rothfusz, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City. Actually, Rothfusz said, they are a little bit above the 88 degree norm, and that will set the trend.

"The rest of the summer is going to be influenced by the well above normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean," Rothfusz said. "It looks like it's going to be hot."

You don't have to tell that to Anthony Jordan, one of the many construction workers who are building the Open Campus Academy on Lee Street in Jonesboro.

"It really gets rough around 12," Jordan said. "But I guess I've been doing it so long I can take it."

The trick is to start working early, take a break when the temperature reaches its peak, Jordan said. And drink lots of water.

"You've got to have that," Jordan said.

That's the advice Mike Mead, assistant director of athletics at Clayton State University, gives to his athletes.

"The main thing really is staying properly hydrated," Mead said.

To accomplish that the best approach is to use both water and sports drinks like Gatorade, Mead said. Sports drinks are especially important for people who are working very hard in the heat and are therefore losing electrolytes and sodium.

Mead is also concerned to hear that some of his runners are jogging in the afternoon.

"I try to talk them out of that," Mead said.

That's the time of day when ozone pollutants in the air can be at their worst.

Anyone who plans on spending a lot of time in the heat should be alert to signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

For the lesser problems, heat cramps or heat exhaustion, Amy Nix with the Clayton County Fire Department recommended getting the person inside an air conditioned building, taking off their shoes, socks and hats and putting cool clothes on the neck, top of the head and under the arms. If the person isn't already nauseous they should be given water before giving them sports drinks that might actually make them vomit, thus dehydrating them further.

If the person is experiencing an altered mental status, is unresponsive or unable to walk, gray in color or is having seizures, that is a medical emergency, Nix said.

Heat is bad for animals, too. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has some tips for keeping pets safe.

Never leave an animal alone in a parked car since even with the windows down the car can turn into an oven. Parking in the shade doesn't necessarily help because as the sun moves so does the shade. Carry a gallon thermos of water for the animal while traveling.

Do not force an animal to exercise after a meal in hot, humid weather, but rather exercise them in the early morning or evening.

Provide shade for animals outside or bring the animal in during the heat of the day. Brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs like bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese, Boston terriers, Lhasa apsos and shih tzus should be kept in the air condition as much as possible. Care should also be taken with old and overweight animals.

And if you take your pet to the beach make sure to provide shade and water and don't make them stand on hot asphalt for too long.