With summer just around the corner, extreme heat will be following alongside it. As temperatures reach into the triple digits the chances of heat related sickness and injuries increase. Taking this into account and preparing accordingly can help prevent potential illnesses. “When temperatures are high, even a few hours of exertion may cause severe dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Others who are frail or have chronic health conditions may develop serious health problems leading to death if they are exposed to high temperatures over several days,” said Jeffery Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer, Los Angeles County in a news release. “Thus, it is critically important to never leave children, elderly people, or pets unattended in homes with no air conditioning and particularly in vehicles, even if the windows are ‘cracked’ or open, as temperatures inside can quickly rise to life-threatening levels. If you have an elderly or infirm neighbor without air conditioning, make sure that they get to a cooling center or other air conditioned space between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.” Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur when the body becomes overheated, either from being in the heat for too long, being dehydrated, or both, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Heat stroke is the more severe of the two and a doctor should be seen right away. According to the Health Department, you can prevent these illnesses by keeping cool and hydrated; drink plenty of water especially when working or playing in the sun, wear a hat, sunglasses and loose-fitting clothes in lighter colors, take breaks to spend time indoors and use a spray bottle to mist yourself with water. Sunburn risk is high during the summer months even if clouds cover the sky, taking the necessary steps can help prevent burns that can even develop into cancerous melanoma. Every person over the age of 6 months old should apply SPF 15 or high sunscreen or for sun-sensitive individuals SPF 30 or higher. Infants under 6 months should be kept out of the sun as much as possible, according to the Health Department. The Health Department also sets up cooling stations around LA county to help beat the heat. To find out more about the cooling stations or how to keep yourself safe from the heat visit the LA County Department of Public Health’s website or call 211.