Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness

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keep cool
couple running on road
Dress appropriately: Choose light, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Stay cool indoors: Stay in an air-conditioned area as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, go to a mall or a public library — even a few hours in air conditioning will keep your body cool when you get back into the heat. Call your local health department to find out if there are any summer shelters in your area.

Remember: Electric fans may provide comfort, but they won’t prevent heat-related illness when temperatures hit the 90s. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned area is a better way to cool off. Use your stove and oven sparingly to keep your home cool.
Plan your outdoor activities carefully: Try to limit outdoor activities to the coolest times, such as morning and evening. Rest often in a cool place so your body has a chance to recover.

Adjust your rhythm: Reduce exercise during periods of heat. If you are not used to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and gradually increase the pace. If straining in the heat makes your heart pound and takes your breath away, stop all activities. Rest in a cool place or shade, especially if you are dizzy, confused, weak, or faint.

Wear sunscreen: Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can dehydrate you. If you must go out, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and applying sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before going out. Proceed to reapply according to package directions.

Tip: Look for sunscreens that say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on the label—these work best.
Don’t leave children in the car: Even with a cracked window, the car can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, children are especially at risk of heat stroke or death. When traveling with children, remember to do the following:

Never leave babies, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked.
To remind yourself that you have children in your car, put a stuffed toy on the car seat. After the child is wearing the seat belt, put the plush toy in front of the driver.
When getting off, check to make sure everyone is getting off. Don’t ignore any child who falls asleep in the car.
Avoid hot and heavy meals: they add calories to your body!

Stay hydrated
Photo of an athlete drinking water.
Drink plenty of water: Drink plenty of water, no matter how active you are. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

Warning: If your doctor restricts your water intake or puts you on water pills, ask how much you should drink in hot weather.
Stay away from sugary or alcoholic beverages — these can actually cause you to lose more fluids. Also avoid very cold drinks, as they can cause stomach cramps.
Replacing salts and minerals: Heavy sweating removes salts and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. Sports drinks can replace the salts and minerals you lose in your sweat.

If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, consult your doctor before drinking sports drinks or taking salt tablets.
Keep your pet hydrated: Provide your pet with plenty of fresh water and keep the water in the shade.

stay informed
girl playing with water
Check for updates: Check local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips, and learn about any cooling shelters in your area.

Know the signs: Learn about the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.

Use a buddy system: When working in heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have others do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are over 65, ask a friend or relative to call you twice a day to check during a heatwave. If you know someone in this age group, check in at least twice a day.

Monitor high-risk groups: While anyone can develop a heat-related illness at any time, some people are at greater risk than others:

infant
People aged 65 or over
overweight person
People who are overworked at work or sports
People with medical conditions, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, or those taking certain medications (such as depression, insomnia, or poor circulation)
Visit at-risk adults at least twice a day and watch them closely for signs of heat stroke or heat stroke. Of course, infants and toddlers need to watch more often.

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