Weather or not: How Public Health keeps the public safe when conditions heat up

Extreme weather – including storms, cold, and heat – can pose major risks to the public’s health. So, we try to stay ahead of the inclement conditions and prepare for worst-case scenarios.

BeatTheHeatGetting warmer…
The National Weather Service (NWS) helps us do our job by issuing specific notices about impending weather events. For instance, yesterday, June 24, the NWS released a “special weather statement” for many areas in our region, including King County. This statement let us know that hot weather and increased fire danger is expected starting Friday. It also detailed some potential temperatures and moisture levels based on the then current information.

So, we rallied the troops. We pulled together messages that we could share with the public and community stakeholders. We updated our website so people could access information quickly and easily. We talked to other King County departments, like Natural Resources & Parks, Community & Human Services, and Metro, to collaborate on a news release and a plan of action.

Weather, you’re on watch
This morning, the NWS took things to the next level, issuing a “heat watch” for the greater Puget Sound area. According to NWS, a heat watch is issued when “conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. A watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased, but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain.”

Now, we are kicking things into high gear, and all hands are on deck. Here’s what the County is doing to keep you cool this weekend:

How King County beats the heat
King County departments are taking action in preparation for the increased temperature:

  • Public Health is sending heat alerts to more than 500 community-based organizations and community leaders that serve multi-cultural and vulnerable populations. The Health Care for the Homeless programs is providing educational resources to local shelters.
  • King County 2-1-1 will update its website throughout the weekend to help residents find the nearest cooling station.
  • The King County Department of Community and Human Services is providing heat alert information to community human service providers. The Emergency Services Patrol will carry bottled water and will be especially vigilant for any signs of dehydration or heat-related illness among homeless persons as they drive their day and evening routes in Seattle.
  • King County animal control officers will be out on regular patrols, and will respond to resident calls about animals in distress due to the heat. Call 9-1-1 or 206-296-PETS (7387) if you see a pet in a hot car, or an animal that lacks access to fresh water and shade. For more tips, visit our Summer Pet Safety Tips webpage.
  • King County Emergency Management’s website includes helpful information, such as:
    • How to stay cool, including open cooling centers
    • Protecting homes from wildfires
    • Updates on burn bans
    • Swimming safely and preventing drowning

Want to know what you can do to beat the heat? Follow these simple steps:

  1. Do what you can to stay cool.
  2. Drink plenty of water often.
  3. Limit direct sunlight and tiring activities during the hottest part of the day.
  4. Do not leave babies, kids, pets, and those with limited mobility in parked cars – ever.
  5. Check in on the elderly.
  6. Practice water safety.
  7. Know the signs of heat exhaustion and stroke.

For more information, check out our “beat the heat” page, and share with your friends and family: www.kingcounty.gov/health/beattheheat