Summer is here! It’s time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. But with temperatures already soaring into the 90’s, it’s important to be mindful of how your body reacts to the heat and take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps.

Here are some of the best ways to prevent a heat-related incident:

  • Don’t wait to feel thirsty. Drink icy-cold water and/or electrolyte-replacing beverages every 15 minutes.
  • Get Acclimated to the Heat. Ease into hot conditions gradually by increasing your exposure over a 5- to 7-day period.
  • Take Breaks. Take a 10-minute break every hour, in a cooler area, to help your body to cool off, especially where the work is hard, physical work. The length of the break should be increased if the temperatures rise to very high. Rest in shady areas for at least 5 minutes.
  • Cool Your Body. Have a cooler of ice available with contains towels to place on your body to cool down.
  • Adjust Clothing. Wear light-colored clothes and a hat. Choose clothing made of breathable material, such as cotton, linen, or jersey. In general rule, looser is cooler in hot weather.

Know the Warning Signs

Recognizing the early warning signs of heat-related illnesses could save a life.

Heat Stroke (Worst)

  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Heavy sweating or hot, dry skin
  • Very high body temperature
  • Rapid heart rate
Heat Exhaustion

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Elevated body temperature or fast heart rate

Heat Cramps

  • Muscle spasms or pain
  • Usually in legs, arms, or trunk

Heat Syncope

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness

Heat Rash

  • Clusters of red bumps on skin
  • Often appears on neck, upper chest, and skin folds

Act Fast
If you, a family member or a colleague experience any of the warning sign symptoms, take the following actions:

  • Move the affected person to a cooler area (e.g., shade or air conditioning).
  • Cool the person immediately:
    • Immerse the person in cold water or an ice bath.
    • Remove outer layers of clothing, especially heavy protective clothing.
    • Place ice or cold wet towels on the head, neck, trunk, armpits, and groin.
    • Use fans to circulate air around the person.
  • Never leave a person with heat-related illness alone. The illness can rapidly become worse.
  • When in doubt, call 911!

Confusion, slurred speech, or unconsciousness are signs of heat stroke. When these types of symptoms are present, call 911 immediately and cool the person with ice or cold water until help arrives.