Here’s what you can do
to prepare yourself and your family
Stay indoors as much as possible.
If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor,
out of the sunshine.
Try to go to a public building
with air conditioning each day for several hours. Remember,
electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat
evaporate, which cools your body.
Wear lightweight, light-colored
clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s
Drink plenty of water regularly
and often. Your body needs water to keep cool.
Drink plenty of fluids even if you
do not feel thirsty.
Water is the safest liquid to
drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or
caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make
the heat’s effects on your body worse. This is especially true
about beer, which dehydrates the body.
Eat small meals and eat more
often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase
Avoid using salt tablets unless
directed to do so by a physician.
Signals of heat
Heat exhaustion: Cool,
moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea
or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be
Heat stroke: Hot, red skin;
changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow
breathing. Body temperature can be very high—as high as 105° F.
If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may
be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry.
Know what these terms
Heat wave: Prolonged period
of excessive heat and humidity. The National Weather Service
steps up its procedures to alert the public during these periods
of excessive heat and humidity.
Heat index: A number in
degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it really feels when
relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature.
Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15° F.
Heat cramps: Heat cramps
are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although
heat cramps are the least severe, they are an early signal that
the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat exhaustion: Heat
exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work
in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy
sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow
to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild
shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is
life-threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which
produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body
temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may
result if the body is not cooled quickly.
Sunstroke: Another term for
If a heat wave is
predicted or happening—
Treatment of heat
Heat cramps: Get the person
to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable
position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and replenish
fluids. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not
give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make
Heat exhaustion: Get the
person out of the heat and into a cooler place. Remove or loosen
tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or
sheets. If the person is conscious, give cool water to drink.
Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool
water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol
or caffeine. Let the victim rest in a comfortable position, and
watch carefully for changes in his or her condition.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is
a life-threatening situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or
your local emergency number. Move the person to a cooler place.
Quickly cool the body. Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap
wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of
breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to
cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water or is
vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do
not give anything to eat or drink.