Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather!

3 min read | Posted on July 22, 2019

Learn about heat-related illness and how to stay cool and safe in hot weather.

High temperatures kill hundreds of people every year. Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet more than 600 people die from extreme heat every year.

Take measures to stay cool, remain hydrated, and keep informed. Getting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can’t compensate for it and properly cool you off. The main things affecting your body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are:

  • High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly. This keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to.
  • Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use all can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.

Senior woman drinking from water bottle outdoors with senior man wiping face with towel in background
People age 65 and older are at high risk for heat-related illnesses.

Those who are at highest risk include people 65 and older, children younger than two, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness.

Closely monitor people who depend on you for their care and ask these questions:

  • Are they drinking enough water?
  • Do they have access to air conditioning?
  • Do they need help keeping cool?

People at greatest risk for heat-related illness can take the following protective actions to prevent illness or death:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as you can. Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area. Air-conditioning is the number one way to protect yourself against heat-related illness and death. If your home is not air-conditioned, reduce your risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned and using air conditioning in vehicles.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling device during an extreme heat event.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.

Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather:

  • Limit your outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Pace your activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

If you play a sport that practices during hot weather, protect yourself and look out for your teammates:

  • Schedule workouts and practices earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
  • Monitor a teammate’s condition, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Seek medical care right away if you or a teammate has symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • Learn more about how to protect young athletes from heat-related illness by taking this CDC course.

Everyone should take these steps to prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries, and death during hot weather:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as you can.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
    • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
    • Pace yourself.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.
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