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Extreme Heat Safety

Warm weather means outdoor activities and fun in the sun but it can also be a dangerous time. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to properly cool themselves. Anyone can be susceptible and everyone needs to be alert to the danger.

There are several factors that can affect your body's ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly which prevents your body from releasing heat quickly. Other factors may include: age, obesity, certain prescription drugs, heart disease, high blood pressure, poor circulation, dehydration and use of alcohol.

Remember to protect yourself when temperatures warm up:

  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. Pace yourself.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Don't drink liquids that contain alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot
  • Drink sports beverages to replace salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: Talk to your doctor if you are on a low-salt diet
  • Stay indoors in the air conditioning. If your home is not air conditioned, spend time in public areas like the mall, library or senior center
  • Electric fans may provide comfort but they may not be sufficient to prevent heat-related illness. Take a shower or bath to cool off
  • Dress in cool, loose clothing. Wear a hat and sunglasses. Use an umbrella for extra shade
  • Wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher to protect from sunburn

Heat-Related Illnesses

Know the warning signs for heat-related illnesses. Check on your friends and neighbors frequently.

Heat Stroke

Occurs when the body temperature rises rapidly and is unable to cool down.

  • High body temperature
    (above 103°F orally)
  • Red, hot and dry skin (no sweat)
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

You may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency.

  • Call 911
  • Begin cooling the victim
  • Do not give fluids to drink
  • Sponge the person with cool water

Heat Exhaustion

Can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate replacement of fluids.

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea

If left untreated, may progress to heat stroke.

  • Help the victim to cool off
  • Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes for victim to sip
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour

Heat Cramps

Usually affect people who are sweating during strenuous activity. If you have heart problems or are on a low-sodium diet, get medical attention. Stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place. Drink sports beverages. Seek medical attention if they do not subside in one hour.

Additional Resources