July 22, 2003 11:00 pm

With the hot temperatures of the past week and only minor relief in sight, it's important that people keep summer — and heat — safety in mind. Exercise caution when you're out and about and take extra care where children and pets are concerned.

Hot temperatures like those we've had the past week get old after a few days and become more difficult to deal with as the heat wave wears on. Although slight relief is expected in the latter part of the week, the fact is that we're still in July and we could see more hot temperatures in August. Everyone needs to keep safety and their health in mind.

First on the summer safety list, of course, is remembering not to leave children or pets in cars. It's hot everywhere and all around us. Not even a partially open window will prevent kids or pets from baking — in a matter of minutes — in a parked car. The rule is simple. Don't do it.

SWIMMING holes provide relief, but whenever you're headed to a lake or river, be sure that your kids are aware of the dangers of water. Adult supervision is essential. Make sure the kids know how to swim before you turn them loose near water. Lessons — and relief from the heat — are available at Veterans Memorial Pool as well as at pools in Cove and Elgin.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are also concerns when temperatures soar. 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 can precede heat stroke and often is the result of being dehydrated. It results in feeling sick, dizzy and faint. To avoid these 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 can be a challenge. When temperatures soar, so do frustrations and tempers. Do whatever it takes to keep your frustration level from rising, so that you don't take the discomfort out on loved ones or the people you work with.

Hot weather presents risks. Don't subject yourself to unbearable heat, even if it means extended trips to stores or other places where there is air conditioning. Be smart and be safe