Are you prepared for extreme heat this summer?

If it seems like we have to wake up earlier and earlier to get in our morning walk or run, it may be because 2020 is tied for the hottest year since 2016, according to NOAA. The data for January through May compares temperatures from the past 141 years.

It’s important to understand the dangers of extreme heat on your body and what you can do to prevent heat exhaustion and heat strokes, which kill more than 600 people each year in the United States.

Ready.gov/heat offers comprehensive information on extreme heat and what you can do to better prepare and respond if you find yourself or others in danger. Below are a few highlights to help you stay safe this summer.

Extreme heat is a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days. In extreme heat your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to death. Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning. Older adults, children and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat. Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.

Find air conditioning

If your home does not have air conditioning or the power goes out, causing a temporary loss in air conditioning, find places in your community where you can stay cool, especially during the hottest hours of the day. Local libraries, shopping malls and community centers are a few options to consider. If you have neighbors who don’t or can’t drive, consider offering them a ride.

To help keep the extreme heat out of your home, cover windows with drapes or shades. Make sure you have adequate insulation, including around any window air conditioners, and keep unwanted hot air out with weather stripping around windows and doors. Add an attic or whole-house fan to help cool and circulate the air.

If you must be outside

  • Find shade.
  • Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
  • Avoid strenuous activities.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Avoid caffeine and high-sugar drinks.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Do not use electric fans when the temperature outside is more than 95 degrees, as it could increase the risk of heat-related illness. Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but do not reduce body temperature.
  • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke and how to respond.
    • Heat cramps
      • Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs
      • Actions: Go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if cramps last more than an hour.
    • Heat exhaustion
      • Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea, vomiting
      • Actions: Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.
    • Heat stroke
      • Signs: Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) taken orally; red, hot and dry skin with no sweat; rapid, strong pulse; dizziness, confusion or unconsciousness
      • Actions: Call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.

NEVER leave people or pets in a closed car. Temperatures in a car can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. That means even a mild 80° F day can turn deadly in a very short time period. Each year, nearly 40 chidren and hundreds of pets die in hot cars. And it makes little difference if you crack the windows. With many people working from home due to COVID-19, be extra vigilant with your children who may sneak into a car and lock themselves in.

To download an extreme heat information sheet to share with your children and friends, click here.

#HeatSafety, #BeatTheHeat, #SummerSafety