Beat the Heat


Heat waves are common in the U.S. throughout the summer. However, in recent years, extreme heat has caused more deaths than any other weather event, including floods. Although heat related illness is preventable, it is still problematic.

Use and share these tips to understand the signs and symptoms of heat related illness and what to do to beat the heat.

Prevention Tips

  • Seek shelter in cool and, if possible, air conditioned areas.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, regardless of activity level. Fluid should be drunk before, during, and after being exposed to extreme heat.
  • Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar.
  • Stay informed for heat warnings, watches, and advisories.
    • Excessive Heat Watch: conditions are favorable for an event to meet or exceed local excessive heat warning criteria in the next 12 to 48 hours. 
    • Excessive Heat Warning: heat values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days. 
    • Excessive Heat Advisory: hazardous heat conditions have begun or will begin within 36 hours and, if caution is not exercised, they could become life-threatening.
  • Get lots of rest.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose fitting clothing.
  • Limit outdoor activity to mornings and evenings.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen that’s SPF 15 or higher.

Symptoms of Heat Illness 

Heat Cramps

  • May be the first sign of heat related illnesses
  • May lead to heat exhaustion or stroke
  • Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen
  • Heavy sweating

Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cool, pale, clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Possible muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
Heat Stroke
  • Altered mental state
  • One or more of the following symptoms: throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing
  • Body temperature above 103°F
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Faints, loses consciousness

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately.

If someone is experiencing a heat stroke you should: 

  • Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment.
  • Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath.
  • Use fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can makes you hotter at higher temperatures.
  • Do NOT give fluids.


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