King County health officials warn about upcoming heat wave

As the holiday weekend approaches, King County health officials are urging residents to prepare for an upcoming heat wave.

JJ Edge from the King County Public Health Preparedness Team emphasized three key points: reducing exposure, staying hydrated, and not downplaying the signs and symptoms.

The holiday is just hours away, bringing with it a heat wave that will hit especially hard in urban heat islands.

It's been a while since we’ve had temperatures like this, and it’s only getting hotter from here on out. While we may be ready for the warmer weather, our bodies may not be.

In June 2021, record heat led to the deadliest climate event in the region's history, claiming over 30 lives in King County.

"Extreme heat events are occurring across our region more regularly each summer, and we can't treat these events as business as usual," said Edge.

Urban heat islands, exacerbated by a lack of vegetation and extensive development, pose a significant threat. Kat, a Bikini Barista out in Kent previously told FOX 13 News, "The sun will literally beam right where I’m at like 24/7. There’s no trees covering us, there’s nothing; it gets really hot in here."

Without trees, there's no shade or relief from the heat.

Prolonged heat can have serious implications, particularly for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and the unhoused.

"We have to listen to our bodies and ensure we're staying hydrated, eating well-balanced meals, and avoiding excessive alcohol, as these factors can worsen heat exposure," said Dr. Kimberly Morrissette with Providence Regional Medical Center.

To stay safe during the heat wave, residents should stay hydrated, avoid peak heat hours, and use fans or air conditioners when possible. Seattle residents, 80% of whom live in heat islands, are encouraged to block sunlight with shades during the day, open windows at night, turn off lights, minimize stove and oven use, and place a bowl of ice under a fan to circulate cool air. Dr. Morrissette also recommends wearing lighter-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

King County is working on initiatives to combat urban heat islands, including plans for tree canopies and increasing reflective surfaces to reduce heat absorption. However, these measures will take time to implement.

"When we have these extreme heat events, we have to take action to stay safe," said Edge. "Our built environment doesn't do it for us."

King County’s extreme heat mitigation plan will be released in the coming weeks, providing more information. Cooling shelters are available, and officials remind everyone never to leave children or pets in cars.


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