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Tips on How to Stay Safe in a Heat Wave

Heat is the number one weather-related cause of death in the US and a leading hazard worldwide. The body must work extra hard to regulate its internal temperatures, so you can be at great risk if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Stay safe during heat waves and high temperatures with these tips from the National Weather Service:

  • Slow down: reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads. Keep food in a cooler or carry an ice pack and don't leave it sitting in the sun. Meats and dairy products can spoil quickly in hot weather.
  • Sweating means your body not only loses water, but sodium and potassium as well. Salty foods, sports drinks or electrolyte water can help to replenish these levels. Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of (not too cold) water or non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty. If you are on a fluid restrictive diet or have a problem with fluid retention, consult a physician before increasing consumption of fluids.
  • Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries.
  • Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw cooler air in. However, do not direct the air flow toward yourself when the room temperature is hotter than 90°F. The dry blowing air will dehydrate you faster, endangering your health.
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body's ability to dissipate heat.
  • Take a cool bath or shower.
  • Check on younger, older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat.
  • Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in vehicles die from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day with temperatures in the 70s. Keep your children, disabled adults, and pets safe by never leaving them in the car.
  • During periods of excessive heat, pavement such as streets, parking lots and sidewalks can become hot enough to burn bare feet as well as the pads of pets and other animals.
  • Stay informed by monitoring local radio and television, or the internet and social media for updates.

Learn more about heat safety here.