Heat Precautions

This summer, just like every summer, the sun will come out, and most families will be outside enjoying all the fun activities that come with the season. However, it’s important to keep an eye on temperatures and know what to do when the heat becomes extreme. Extreme heat is defined as 90 degrees for at least two days. Heat illnesses can be prevented when you’re prepared.
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Summer heat
Keep these precautions in mind during times of extreme summer heat.

How to Prepare For Hot Weather

Keep an eye out for weather alerts near you—if the weather channel or an alarm runs across the TV, take extra steps to prepare for the extreme heat coming to your area. Much of it has to do with your home:

  • Weatherproof your windows, doors, and around any window air-conditioning units
  • Make sure your air conditioner is serviced and is in good working order, and replace any air filters throughout your home every 3 months to keep everything efficient
  • Contact your energy company for tips on conserving energy
  • Cover your window with shades and/or drapes (black-out curtains work well)
  • Add material to the glass in your windows to reflect sunlight and keep extra sun rays from heating up your home (aluminum foil is inexpensive and easy to use)
  • Make a list of emergency contacts and keep them handy to call if you need help
  • Know where to go if your home is not cool enough:
    ○Public library
    ○Shopping mall
    ○Cooling center
    ○A friend’s homw


Extreme Heat Guidelines

When the weather gets hot, sometimes a few simplified guidelines are the best option for quick reference.

  • Wear sunscreen with a high SPF rating
  • Wear cool, loose-fitted clothing and a hat when outside
  • Go to libraries, shopping malls, and cooling centers
    ○Find a cooling center near you by searching the web for “Cooling centers near [your town]”
  • Take cool showers and baths to cool off
  • Eat light, cool meals and avoid using the oven or stove
    ○E.g. salads, sandwiches, or use a crock pot
    ○Hot, heavy meals add heat to your body
  • Drink a lot of water and other fluids (have sports drinks at the ready, too)


DON’T Rely on a fan—it doesn’t cool down your body temperature

DON’T leave people or pets in a car on a warm or hot day–even if the windows are cracked (find a way to remind yourself by putting one of your shoes in the backseat when you get in the car, so you have to look in the back seat to get your other shoe when you get out.

DON’T drink alcohol and sugary, dehydrating drinks. Note: Extremely cold drinks can cause stomach cramps.

DON’T overexert yourself outside. Work out inside or go for a less strenuous activity, such as walking, and go in the early morning while it’s a little cooler outside.


Heat Precautions

It’s important to stay aware of your body during times of extreme heat. Sometimes our bodies cannot keep up with the extreme heat, and it isn’t able to cool itself by sweating, which is its normal method of keeping the body cool. When the body can’t cool itself, the body temperature rises, which can lead to heat-related illnesses.


Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. If they’re addressed quickly, they won’t become a big issue. It is most vital to keep tabs on seniors, infants and young children (under the age of 4), and people who are overweight or on specific medication, as they are at the greatest risk.


Heat stroke: above 103F temperature

  • Red, hot, dry skin with no sweat
  • strong, rapid pulse
  • dizziness or confusion (or at worst: unconsciousness)

Heat cramps

  • muscle spasms
  • cramping in the stomach, legs or arms

Heat exhaustion

  • heavy sweating
  • muscle cramps
  • tiredness and/or weakness

If you have any of the above symptoms, go to a cooler location, remove any excess clothing, and take small sips of cool water or a sports drink.


How to Help Yourself and Others During Extreme Heat

In extreme heat events, it’s important to take extra good care of yourself and check-in with those around you. Check on elderly neighbors and relatives, and keep a careful eye on infants and younger children. Establish a buddy system, and know who you’ll be in contact with during the extreme heat period.


Additionally, use your best common sense. Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Keep an eye on the weather and temperature. Aim for early morning or later evening for any outdoor activities. Mid-day heat is the hottest when the sun is at its zenith. Don’t overdo it, and be sure to also keep your pets well hydrated. Keep their water in a shady, cool area (and consider swapping out their metal bowl for one that’s less heat-conductive.


Additional Extreme Heat Advice

If symptoms of heat-related illness last more than an hour, you should call your healthcare provider.


Medical conditions become a little more complicated during extreme heat events. If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, don’t take salt tablets or drink a sports beverage without consulting your provider.


Bottom line: Use your common sense, stay hydrated and informed, and have a plan.


Other Resources

Go here for more information on heat-related illness symptoms and prevention.


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