Hot weather can be more than just uncomfortable – it can pose a threat to people’s health or even their lives. Extremely hot weather can be deadly when it pushes the human body beyond its limits.
Key safety tips to avoid heat-related illness on hot days:
- Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Limit your time outdoors, especially in the afternoon when the day is hottest.
- Never leave a child, disabled or elderly person, or pet alone in a parked vehicle, even briefly with the windows open. The temperature inside a car can reach more than 120 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. Lock parked cars to prevent children from playing in them.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and are older, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
- Be careful about exercising or doing a lot of activities when it is hot. Stay out of the sun, take frequent breaks, drink water often and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke (also called sun stroke) and take appropriate action. Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and not drinking enough fluids. Heat stroke occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature. If not treated immediately, heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability.
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure they are not suffering from the heat.
- If you live in a home without fans or air conditioning, open windows to allow air flow, and keep shades, blinds or curtains drawn in the hottest part of the day or when the windows are in direct sunlight. Do not use a fan when the air temperature is above 95 degrees – it will blow hot air, which can add to heat stress.
- Consider spending the hottest part of the day in air conditioned public buildings such as libraries, shopping malls or movie theatres. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation. Cool showers or a cool bath can help too.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored cotton clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors and synthetics because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Protect your body, face and head by wearing a high SPF sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) and a wide-brimmed hat, if you have to go outside. Remember to reapply sunscreen, especially if you are perspiring or in contact with water.
For more information about preventing heat-related illness, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.