What is Extreme Heat?
Extreme heat is defined as summertime temperatures that are much hotter and/or humid than average.
Who is Most at Risk?
Older adults, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy people can be affected if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
Summertime activity, whether on the playing field or the construction site, must be balanced with actions that help the body cool itself to prevent heat-related illness. Use this website to learn more on how to stay safe in the heat this summer, including how to prevent, recognize, and cope with heat-related illness.
What Causes Heat-Related Illness?
Heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, happen when the body is not able to properly cool itself. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, during extreme heat, this might not be enough. In these cases, a person’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down. This can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs.
Some factors that might increase your risk of developing a heat-related illness include:
- High levels of humidity
- Prescription drug use
- Heart disease
- Mental illness
- Poor circulation
- Alcohol use
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drink more fluids, regardless of how active you are. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
- Warning: If your doctor limits the amount you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
- Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
- If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.
Keep Your Pets Hydrated: Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area.
Try to keep your home cool
- Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
- Cover windows with drapes or shades.
- Weather-strip doors and windows.
- Use window reflectors such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard to reflect heat back outside.
- Add insulation to keep the heat out.
- Use a powered attic ventilator, or attic fan, to regulate the heat level of a building’s attic by clearing hot air.
- Install window air conditioners and insulate around them.
- Learn to recognize the signs of heat illness. For more information visit: www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html
Stay Cool Tips
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Choose lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing
Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully
It is best to limit your outdoor activity to when it is coolest. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to cool down
If you are not accustomed to working or being outside in a hot environment, you will want to pace yourself. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for break, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.
Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before you go out into the sun! Continue to reapply the sunscreen according to the package directions.
Do NOT Leave Children or Pets in the Car
Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, children are especially at risk of getting a heat stroke or dying. When traveling with children, remember to do the following:
• Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
• To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
• When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.