Heat waves can come on suddenly and without warning. Extreme heat can be a danger, especially for seniors and people with certain medical conditions. In fact, extreme heat caused more U.S. deaths in the past 30-plus years than hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and lightning combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Air conditioning is the best way to protect yourself from heat-related illness and death. When it’s really hot out, stay inside in locations with air conditioning. If you lack AC at home, check out shopping malls, libraries or heat-relief shelters in your area. Going to a local museum is also a good way to beat the heat.
Drink plenty of water, even if you aren’t thirsty. Avoid drinking liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar, as these can cause you to lose more body fluid and become dehydrated.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can get sick from hot weather. People at higher risk of heat-related illnesses include seniors, infants, young children and those who are overweight. People with chronic heart or lung problems or disabilities are also at greater risk.
Symptoms of heat-related illnesses
If you feel faint, dizzy or nauseous or have heavy sweating or exhaustion when it’s hot, ask a family member, friend or neighbor to sit with you until you feel better. If you don’t feel better soon, call a doctor immediately or go to the nearest hospital.
For more tips, download the Get Ready campaign’s heat waves fact sheet in English or Spanish.