People and pets need to keep cool, mayor says

CITY HALL – Mayor Lyda Krewson is telling everyone to take seriously the National Weather Service’s excessive heat warning through the weekend. 

“Don’t wait until you’re overheated,” she said at a news conference at her City Hall office Wednesday morning. “Check on your neighbor. Check on ’em twice a day. Make sure that the air conditioners are on, that they’re running, and if they aren’t, make alternative arrangements.”

The National Weather Service in St. Louis is warning of excessive heat from now through 8:00 p.m. Saturday. The weather service says temperatures are expected to be near or above 100 degrees. Heat index values of 105 to 113 degrees are expected in the afternoons and evenings.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Krewson and city Health Director Dr. Fredrick Echols offered a list of tips ranging from where people can cool off to how to protect the family pet. 

Krewson said that anyone who needed an air conditioner should contact Cool Down St. Louis at, and she encouraged others to make a contribution to the organization.

“It’s important to have the air conditioner. It’s important, too, to run the air conditioner,” the mayor said. “It doesn’t do any good to have that air conditioner in the window and not have it turned on.” The air conditioner should be turned on in the morning so it can keep a place cool all day, Krewson said. 

“For anyone who needs shelter, this is not the time to stay outside,” Krewson warned. “This heat is potentially just as deadly as the really cold weather in the winter.”

Cooling centers also are available at libraries, recreation centers and other places. For information on cooling sites, contact the United Way Greater St. Louis Information Referral line at 1-800-427-4626, or if calling from a landline phone, dial 211. Beds are available in shelters, which are extending their hours.

Anyone with symptoms of overheating should call 911.

“Sometimes we may not realize the symptoms of heat-related illness until it’s too late,” Echols said. 

People should wear light, loose-fitting clothing and drink plenty of water during the day. The city website offers these additional tips for staying cool:

  • Don’t be in poorly ventilated areas. Don’t work in the sun for long periods. Have lots of fluid with you. Stay inside if possible or take breaks often in an air- conditioned area.
  • Learn the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Don’t leave children unattended in a vehicle. Check the backseat. During extreme heat, vehicle temperatures can reach lethal levels in a matter of minutes.
  • Sports drinks can replace the salt and minerals lost in sweat. But people on low-salt diets, who have diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic conditions, should talk to their doctors before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.

Prevention is important for animals as well as people, Echols noted. 

“It’s really important to make you aware of the symptoms that your animals may be exhibiting,” Echols said. “If your pets are panting, it may be the time to take them indoors.”

People shouldn’t force their pets to exercise their during the peak heat time of the day, Echols said. 

The city’s website suggests:

  • Pets should be kept in an air-conditioned environment.
  • Pets should not be left alone in a vehicle. Anyone who sees pets in an unattended vehicle should call 911. 
  • Pet owners should watch for coolant leaking from their vehicles. Drinking just a little bit can be fatal for a pet.
  • Owners should exercise their animals only in the early morning or the evening. They shouldn’t allow their pets to stand on asphalt surfaces, which can burn paws. 

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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