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Posted on: July 19, 2019

During periods of extreme heat, people should take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.

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Extreme Heat Tip Sheet

During periods of extreme heat, people should take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.Stay cool, hydrated and informed.  

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Stay hydrated

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, throughout the day
  • Do not wait until you are thirsty before you drink fluids (except if advised to reduce fluid intake by your doctor)
  • Avoid drinking alcohol
  • Avoid drinks that are high in sugar and caffeine
  • Avoid very cold drinks — they can cause stomach cramps

Stay cool

  • Visit air-conditioned places (e.g., malls, libraries) if your home is hot
  • Do not use electric fans to cool yourself when the temperature reaches the high 90’s and above — blowing air onto your body that is higher than your body temperature can actually increase heat stress
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • Avoid exercising outdoors during the hottest hours of the day (usually between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.)
  • Take a cool shower or bath

Stay informed

  • Listen daily to the local news for the weather forecast and adjust activities as necessary to stay safe in the heat
  • Know the symptoms of heat-related illnesses; be prepared to carry out safety measures and first aid
  • Get health and safety information from your local public health department

If you must be outside in the heat:

  • Avoid exercising outdoors during the hottest hours of the day (usually between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.)
  • Avoid strenuous exercise
  • If you must exercise, pace yourself
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Rest often in the shade or in an air-conditioned building

Help others stay safe in extreme heat:

  • Do not leave children or pets in a car, even if the windows are cracked open and the vehicle is parked in the shade!
  • Check on infants, children, and the elderly frequently for signs or symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
  • Encourage friends and relatives to check on family and neighbors who might be more at risk, especially those who live alone to ensure they’re staying cool and hydrated.
  • Monitor people with medical conditions that may make them more at-risk to the negative impacts of ex- treme heat. Some chronic health conditions, like diabetes or kidney disorders, can be made worse by heat exposure.

Signs of heat exhaustion

  • Mild headache, light headedness
  • Cool, pale skin (heavy sweating)
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness

What to do:

  • Move to a cooler place
  • Cool with ice/cold water and lay down
  • Drink cool water or sports drinks
  • Call 9-1-1 if symptoms last longer than 1 hour

Signs of heat stroke

  • Throbbing headache, confusion, seizure, irritability, or altered/loss of consciousness
  • Oral body temperature of 104 and above; dry mouth
  • Hot skin
  • Nausea, vomiting

Many signs of heat exhaustion can overlap with signs of heat stroke. When in doubt, call 9-1-1.

What to do:

  • Call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY
  • Move the affected person to the shade or cooler place
  • Cool the affected person with immersion in cool water or by placing ice packs on the neck and groin area

Need to print? Click here for an info-graphic.

Need more information?

Visit:  Planning for extreme heat events - www.health.mn.gov/heatplanning

Minnesota extreme heat data - www.health.mn.gov/heatdata

Contact directly: E-mail - health.climatechange@state.mn.us

Phone - 651-201-4991

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