On average, more people in the world die each year from heat-related illness than any other weather disaster. Human-caused global warming will increase the danger as heat waves become hotter, longer, and more frequent.
This text explains what actions you can take when the weather is extremely hot and how to understand heat alerts from the National Weather Service that you could receive in your local area. Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.
Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat. Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
Check the weather/listen to NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
Protect face and head by wearing sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat.
Postpone outdoor games and activities.
Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
Avoid extreme temperature changes.
Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
Download the FEMA App for heat advisories and safety tips.
To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
Know those in your neighborhood who are older, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
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.)
Keep storm windows up all year.
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an extreme heat hazard: