Its hot outside, very hot.

But it could be worse.

While news reports state the Metroplex has had at least 12 days of temperatures rising above 100F, temperatures in Somervell County have not yet reached the three-digit mark.

The National Weather Service does not maintain an official weather station in the county, but Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant does monitor wind speeds and temperatures. The station is next to the lake and has not yet reported any triple digit temperatures in July.

The hottest day was July 12 with a recorded temperature of nearly 98. The coolest day was two days later at 87F. Since then, the temperature has crept higher every day.

With the heat rising and the summer sun blaring down, residents should remember to take steps to prevent heat-related stress and illness. If at all possible, the Center for Disease Control recommends people stay indoors when the temperatures are especially high and to drink even if youre not thirsty. The CDC also recommends avoiding cold water because it can cause stomach cramps, resting, and wearing lightweight, light colored clothing when outdoors.

Symptoms for heat exhaustion are pale color, moist skin, profuse sweating, muscle cramps or pains, feeling faint or dizzy, headaches, general weakness, thirst and nausea, as well as a core temperature of 100F or more. Anyone who thinks they might be suffering from heat exhaustion should go inside and take a cool shower or bath, drink water and try to cool down.

If the condition worsens, it could progress into a heat stroke. The symptoms for this include unconsciousness, flushed, hot, or dry skin, possible hyperventilating, and a core temperature of 105F or more.

But people arent the only ones affected by the heat. Animals, if not properly cared for, can suffer too.

Dr. Karen Hobbs, of Ark Veterinary Hospital in Stephenville, says symptoms for heat stroke or exhaustion in animals is similar to humans in that they pant heavily, have an accelerated heart rate, high temperature, and are sometimes despondent or in a coma-like state. She says when this happens the best thing to do is try and cool the animal down with water and ice packs before and during transportation to a veterinary clinic.

Protecting your pets from the heat is very important, says Hobbs. They need plenty of shade from the sun and access to lots of water to drink. Its good to also give them access to a body of water, like a kids pool or a tank or pond, where they can get in and cool off if they get too hot.

It is also important to do visual checks on the animals to ensure they are getting enough shade and water. She said dogs are known to kick over their water while playing and then having nothing to drink, but visual checks throughout the day ensure that doesnt happen.

Hobbs said dogs with especially thick undercoats, like Huskies or Great Pyranees, should be left inside or somewhere that is air-conditioned, or the owner should consider shaving the dog. According to Hobbs, there are two theories on shaving; one being the undercoat helps the dog stay cool by insulating the body, while the other says the undercoat makes the dog hot and uncomfortable.

In my experience, thick coated dogs seem much more comfortable after theyve been shaved in the summer, Hobbs said. The only problem then is sunburn, so again, make sure they have plenty of shade.