NETHERLANDS — As spring moves into summer, heat waves are becoming more common along the lake shore. Left in the heat without air conditioning? Here is a list of resources for families, seniors, pet owners, and more:
Do you want to spend a lot of time indoors without spending a lot of money? There are Holland area options for you, including:
Holland Aquatic Center
The best escape from heat is usually water. Single-visit passes to the Holland Aquatic Center are $11 for non-residents and $6 for city residents. Passes include access to family and preschool splash time, regular swimming, the splash zone, and fitness equipment. Learn more at hollandaquatic.org.
Herrick District Library
This completely free community center is available to families and offers hours of quiet entertainment, including a kids’ section, comfortable reading spots and computers. Visit the main branch at 300 S. River Ave. or the north branch at 155 Riley St. Hours are available at herrickdl.org.
The lost City
In this arcade, you spend as much as you want. Mini bowling is $1 per person, while indoor miniature golf is just $4 per person. There are discount deals available, as well as laser tags, concessions, and of course heat protection. Learn more about The Lost City — 12330 James St. — at the-lost-city.com.
Zeeland Splatter Pad
It’s not indoors, but the Zeeland Splash Pad offers plenty of free, refreshing fun for the whole family. The fenced-in playground offers restrooms, benches, tables, and shade, and is located near food and drink options in central Zeeland. The pad is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Learn more at cityofzeeland.com/323/City-of-Zeeland-Splash-Pad-Park.
Seniors without home air conditioning systems are encouraged to stay with family, friends and neighbors if possible during extreme heat conditions, the Allegan County Department of Emergency Management said.
People who are elderly or who have certain health conditions, such as poor circulation, are especially vulnerable to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
If you don’t have a working air conditioner at home, public facilities like libraries and community centers can be good places to escape the heat.
The Herrick District Library and Mission Gateway have been designated as public cooling sites by the Ottawa County Office of Emergency Management. The library is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the Gateway Mission Men’s and Family Shelters are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Allegan County Office of Emergency Management does not designate specific sites as cooling centers, but officials recommend seeking shelter in places generally open to the public, such as public libraries, community centers, recreation centers, shopping malls and churches.
Allegan County Transportation can provide transportation to these locations. Call 269-673-4229 to schedule a ride during business hours, or call 269-686-5164 to contact the volunteer driver program for seniors and people with disabilities.
Easy ways to reduce your risk of heat-related illness include wearing lightweight, light-colored clothing, staying indoors or in the shade, especially during peak sun hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and drinking plenty of water before and during any activity, according to the Allegan County Health Department.
Heat exhaustion usually shows up as dizziness, muscle pain, excessive sweating, nausea, tiredness, and pale, clammy skin, sometimes with goosebumps.
Heat exhaustion is easily treatable, but it must be taken seriously to prevent it from turning into heat stroke, a life-threatening emergency in which body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat stroke involves neurological symptoms such as disorientation and confusion, seizures and unconsciousness, and hot, dry skin.
If you begin to experience heat exhaustion, find a cool or air-conditioned place, drink water, and cool your body with a cold compress or cold shower. If you or someone else is experiencing heat stroke, call 911.
If you are having trouble paying your electricity bill, contact your electricity provider directly or call 211 and ask for help. Many electric companies have payment programs to help you avoid a potentially health-threatening power outage during a heat wave.
The Ottawa County Community Action Agency offers help paying overdue utility bills. Call OCCAA at 616-393-4433 to determine if you qualify for their utility assistance program.
Household pets can also be at risk during extreme heat, especially if they are left in the sun during the day.
One important thing to keep in mind is how quickly the temperature rises in a parked car. the Humane Society of the United States remember that on an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows slightly open can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes.
If a pet is being exercised during intense heat, the Humane Society advises “adjusting the intensity and duration” of activities. Tips include limiting exercise to early morning or afternoon when the sun is low, avoiding hot asphalt that can burn your pet’s paws, and always carrying water to keep your pet hydrated.
Pet owners should also keep in mind that pets with white-colored ears are more susceptible to skin cancer and short-nosed pets with shortness of breath struggle more in the heat.
If your pet is outdoors, it’s important to provide ample access to cool, fresh water and shaded areas that can catch a breeze. The Humane Society notes that dog houses often don’t relieve heat, but instead make it worse due to a lack of airflow.
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Owners should also watch for signs of heat stroke in their animals. Signs include heavy panting, glassy eyes, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, incoordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, dark red or purple tongue, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
If your pet appears to be suffering from heat stroke, move him to a shaded or air-conditioned area, apply ice packs or cold towels to his head, neck, and chest, or run cold water over him. Let them drink small amounts of cold water and take them directly to a vet.
— Contact reporters Carolyn Muyskens, Mitchell Boatman and Cassandra Lybrink at [email protected].