July 14, 2002 11:00 pm

With the hot temperatures of the past several days, it's important that people keep summer safety in mind. Being safe is about more than simply applying sunscreen. Exercise caution when you're out and about and when you seek relief from the heat, and be sure to take extra care where children and pets are concerned.

The hot temperatures of the past week represented our first heat wave of the summer and the highest temperatures we've seen in a few years. But summer is less than a month old. It's a safe bet that we'll see more hot weather before the pleasant days and cool nights of fall arrive.

First on the summer safety list, of course, is remembering not to leave children or pets in cars. Not even providing a partially open window will prevent kids or pets from baking in a parked car. Not even for 10 minutes, or five. The rule is simple. Don't do it.

If you're heading to a lake or river, be sure that your kids are aware of the dangers of water. Adult supervision is essential. And make sure your kids know how to swim before turning them loose near water. Lessons are available at Veterans Memorial Pool.

And please remember that when the weather turns hot, things that sit out in the sun do so as well. A Portland television station reported last week that a woman was upset with the Sandy School District because it had a slide at a school that got so hot in the sun her child's hands were badly burned. Use common sense. Slides, especially metal ones, get hot.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are also concerns this time of year. Heat stroke is a serious condition caused by prolonged exposure to very hot conditions. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature rises rapidly, resulting in the victim becoming confused or unconscious. Heat exhaustion often precedes heat stroke and often is the result of being dehydrated. It results in feeling sick, dizzy and faint. To avoid these serious conditions, drink plenty of water and keep as cool as you can, even if it means seeking out a place where there is air conditioning.

Another problem caused by heat, but one that is less recognized as a problem, is the frustration that can develop when it's been hot for an extended period. Finding refuge from the heat sometimes isn't easy.

And when temperatures soar like they did last week, nights don't even bring relief. Tempers can flare as heat frustration grows. Statistics have shown that crime and violence rise when the weather turns hot. Most of us aren't prone to committing crimes, but frustrations impact everyone. Do whatever it takes to keep your frustration level from rising to an extreme and taking the discomfort out on loved ones or the people you work with.

Hot weather presents numerous risks. When it comes to keeping safe, use

common sense.