With record-breaking high temperatures across the Pacific Northwest, it’s no surprise that residents have been searching online for information on how to beat the heat.

We took a look at some of the most searched heat-related topics from people in the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area; here are some answers.

Why do my feet swell in the heat?

According to Dr. Steve Mitchell, medical director of the emergency department at Harborview Medical Center, blood vessels generally dilate when it’s hot, in an effort to dissipate heat. 

Those dilated vessels in the lower legs, along with gravity, lead to higher pressure and increased “leakiness” of the vessels, Mitchell explained Friday. That can lead to edema, or fluid, in the feet and ankles.

To combat this, Mitchell said, get out of the heat and elevate your feet if you can.

What are the symptoms and treatments for heat sickness?

There is a difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal, according to UW Medicine.


Signs of heat exhaustion include feeling faint or dizzy; excessive sweating; cool and clammy skin; nausea; a rapid, weak pulse and muscle cramps.

Washington state’s Emergency Management Division recommends treating heat exhaustion by moving to a cooler, shaded or air-conditioned place, drinking water or sports drinks and taking a cold shower or using a cold compress.

If untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke. For heat stroke, officials recommend seeking immediate medical attention by calling 911, moving to a cooler place and using cool cloths or a bath to cool down.

Symptoms include a body temperature above 103 degrees; throbbing headache; confusion; lack of sweating; hot, dry skin; nausea or vomiting; a rapid, strong pulse; and a loss of consciousness.

What are the symptoms of heat illness in children?

Symptoms in children are the same or similar as in adults (see above) but add to that:

  • Restlessness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Goosebumps

How can I cool down my cat?

Stroke your cat with a damp washcloth, comb their hair (a tangle-free coat keeps the animal cooler, according to tips from Purina), aim a small fan at them during their naps, remove the rug from the bathroom floor so they have some tile or linoleum to lie on, fill a “hot” water bottle, put it in the freezer for a few hours, then wrap it in a towel and place it in their favorite sleep spot.


How can I help my dog cool down?

Don’t worry, we weren’t going to leave out the dogs. To help our canine friends, and other warm-blooded animals, stay cool in the hot weather, here are some tips from the Seattle Animal Shelter and Seattle Humane Society.

(I know you would never, but don’t be this Sedro-Woolley woman who left her dog to die on a balcony without shade or water.)

Provide shade and a cool place to rest. Bird cages and pet beds should be moved away from direct sunlight. Never leave an animal chained or penned in direct sunlight.

Provide clean, cool water. Change out the water in pet dishes to ensure it is cool and add ice chips if you want.

Water play. Splashing around in a few inches of water in a kiddie pool can provide relief from the heat for some dogs. However, wet paws can be more sensitive to damage. Check your pet’s paws after playing.