In the event of extreme heat
Pay attention and respond to official warnings about extreme heat in your area. Stay indoors as much as possible, and avoid exerting yourself outdoors. If you are home, stay on the lowest floor out of the sun, where typically it’s coolest. If air conditioning is not possible, use fans to help sweat evaporate and cool your body. Keep in mind that while electric fans may provide comfort, they will not necessarily prevent heat-related illness during periods of extreme heat.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.
- Install temporary window reflectors between windows and drapes, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
Consider going to a cool building (e.g. shopping mall, community center, library) during the hottest hours of the day. If you must be outside, reduce heat exposure.
- Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
- Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
- Try to rest often in shady areas.
- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (which will also keep you cooler) as well as sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels).
Drink plenty of water and other fluids to help keep your body cool, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid excessive intake of caffeine and alcoholic beverages (particularly beer), which can be dehydrating. Eat small, light frequent meals. Avoid excessive protein or heavy foods. Wear light, loose-fitting warm-weather clothing; avoid layers of clothing. Take frequent cool showers, baths or sponge baths. Never leave anyone - including pets - in a closed vehicle even for brief periods of time. Temperatures in automobiles can climb to 130° F within minutes and can be lethal.
Be aware that some prescription medications may interfere with the body’s natural ability to regulate temperature or may inhibit sweat production. Check with your doctor of pharmacist for these and other possible side effects.
Beware of heat-related illnesses. Be ready to administer appropriate first aid.
Extreme heat can be especially hard on children and the elderly. Never leave them in a closed vehicle even for brief periods of time. Consider the elderly and people with chronic medication conditions. Adjusting to temperature changes may be especially hard for them; so be alert to their special needs. Check on elderly friends and neighbors and others who are at risk of heat-related illnesses at least twice a day.
- Make sure pets have plenty of water and access to shade or cooler environments.
- Be careful not to over-exert any pets during outdoor activities (especially older animals and dogs with thick fur). They can succumb to heat exhaustion and heat stroke much more quickly than humans.
- Never leave pets in a closed vehicle, even for very short periods.