Health Threats from Extreme Heat

Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. With another week of high temperatures, we want to share resources to help protect you and your family.

Infants and Young Children

Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of extreme heat, and must rely on other people to keep them cool and hydrated.

  • Never leave infants or children in a parked car. (Nor should pets be left in parked cars—they can suffer heat-related illness too.)
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Seek medical care immediately if your child has symptoms of symptoms of heat-related illness.

People with Chronic Medical Conditions

People with a chronic medical condition are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Also, they may be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat. People in this category need the following information.

  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates regularly.
  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook – it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or someone you know experiences symptoms of heat-related illness.

Athletes

People who exercise in extreme heat are more likely to become dehydrated and get heat-related illness. STOP all activity and get to a cool environment if you feel faint or weak.

  • Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package. 
  • Schedule workouts and practices earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
  • Pace activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
  • Monitor a teammate’s condition, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or a teammate has symptoms of heat-related illness.

Outdoor workers

People who work outdoors are more likely to become dehydrated and are more likely to get heat-related illness. STOP all activity and get to a cool environment if you feel faint or weak.

  • Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Ask if tasks can be scheduled for earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat.
  • Wear a brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned buildings during breaks and after work.
  • Encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • For more information, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress.

Heat and low income

  • If you have air conditioning, use it to keep your home cool.
  • If you can’t afford to use your air conditioning:
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you have, or someone you know has, symptoms of heat-related illness.

Learn more from the Oregon Health Authority Preparedness program.

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