85°… 90°… 95°…
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the temperature go up and up! We love warm summer days, but too much of a good thing (in this case: heat) can have a negative outcome. Extreme heat — characterized as a long period of high humidity and heat over 90° — poses severe challenges and can lead to serious health consequences. Below, we lay out four heat and humidity safety tips to protect you and your family this summer.
Drink water and stay indoors if possible.
In an extreme heat scenario, drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol, as these are dehydrating and can increase the effects of heat-related illness. Also, if possible, stay indoors — especially during late morning and early afternoon (the hottest time of day). If you must be outdoors, move slowly and take frequent breaks. Avoid strenuous, outdoor exercise and activities.
Never leave a passenger (human or pet) in a locked car.
Since 1998, over 700 children have died of heatstroke after being trapped in a hot vehicle. Even if the weather feels fairly mild, the temperature inside a parked car can reach dangerous levels within minutes. Click here for more car-specific heatstroke safety tips.
Learn how to recognize and respond to heat-related illness.
Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke can come on suddenly in extreme temps. If not treated, they can lead to serious health consequences. Below are symptoms and recommended responses to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke:
- Signs: muscle pains or spasms
- Recommended action: Go to a cooler location, remove excess clothing, and sip a sports drink to replenish electrolytes. If symptoms get worse or last more than an hour, seek medical help.
- Signs: heavy sweating, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting
- Recommended action: Lie down in an air-conditioned space or take a cool bath. Sip on a cool sports drink to replenish electrolytes. If symptoms get worse or last more than an hour, seek medical help.
- Signs: An extremely high body temp (above 103 degrees), red/hot/dry skin without sweat, rapid pulse, dizziness, confusion, loss of consciousness
- Recommended action: Call 911 or bring the person to the hospital immediately. Cool them down as much as you can until help arrives.
Take special care of vulnerable populations: children, the elderly, the sick, and the overweight.
In extreme heat, your body must work hard to maintain a normal temperature. In severe cases, this leads to overworking the body: something that puts children, the elderly, the sick, and the overweight at risk. Under an extreme heat warning, pay special attention to these groups of people — help them find air conditioning or shade, encourage them to avoid strenuous activities, watch for heat-related illness, and make sure they drink plenty of fluids.
Summer is a wonderful time of year, and you shouldn’t be hesitant to get outside and enjoy the weather. Just make sure to take care of yourself and others when temperatures hit new highs!