Keep your cool in extreme heat

The dog days of summer bring the warmest, sultriest temperatures of the year. Even if you’re a summertime enthusiast, it’s important to stay cool during extreme heat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), more than 700 people die from extreme heat every year in the U.S.

Factors like obesity, age and alcohol intake can impact how a person reacts to extreme heat. High humidity also contributes to heat-related illness because we don’t sweat as quickly—meaning our bodies can’t release heat as fast—when humidity levels are high.

Take extra steps to cool off, keep hydrated and stay informed. Here are five tips recommended by the CDC to help you stay cool during extremely warm weather:

  1. Stay in an air-conditioned home or building as much as possible. Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest. If your home is not air conditioned, call the local health department to locate public facilities or shelters.
  2. If you must be outdoors, wear loose, light-colored clothing and apply sunscreen often.
  3. Drink more water than usual. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more.
  4. Take cold showers or baths to cool down.
  5. Avoid using the oven or stove to cook. These appliances add heat to your home. Try using the microwave or a slow cooker instead.

In addition, be sure you are ready to face the heat in case of a power outage. As with any power outage, it helps to be prepared with the right supplies and know what to do to keep everyone safe and comfortable.

  • Build an emergency preparedness kit including non-perishable food, bottled water, a flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
  • Always keep your cell phone charged and have a supply of portable chargers.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
  • Have a backup plan if you rely on electricity for life-saving medical equipment.
  • Move to the lowest level of your home.
  • Consider purchasing a battery-powered fan.
  • Have a battery-powered radio on hand.
  • Unplug sensitive electronic devices such as computers and televisions in case of power surges when electricity is restored.
  • If using a generator, only use it outdoors and away from windows.

Especially during extreme heat, power outage or not, remember to look after those who may need extra help. People 65 years of age or older are at greater risk of heat-related illness, so check on your senior neighbors and friends. Children under the age of 2 and pets are also more susceptible to heat stroke. Never leave a child or pet in a vehicle, even if only for a minute.

Heat-induced illness can happen to anyone, even to those who are perfectly healthy. If you’re outdoors during extremely warm weather, monitor how you’re feeling, stay hydrated and keep an eye on those around you.