Heat health tips

Posted June 24, 2010 8:38 a.m. EDT
Updated June 13, 2016 9:54 a.m. EDT

The National Weather Service offers these and more tips to keep healthy during extreme heat.

General heat safety tips

Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities for the coolest time of day. At-risk individuals should stay in the coolest available place.

Dress for summer. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.

Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods, including proteins, that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.

Drink plenty of water or non-alcoholic fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. People who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease; are on fluid-restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a physician before increasing their consumption of fluids.

Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Air conditioning markedly reduces the danger from the heat. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spending some time each day, particularly during the hottest weather, in an air-conditioned environment affords some protection.

Don’t get too much sun. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation that much more difficult

Health dangers

As the heat index rises, watch out for these health problems.

130 degrees or higher: Heatstroke and/or sunstroke are highly likely with continued exposure.

105-130 degrees: Sunstroke, heat cramps or heat exhaustion are likely, and heatstroke is possible with prolonged exposure or physical activity.

90-105 degrees: Sunstroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion are possible with prolonged exposure or physical activity.

80-90 degrees: Fatigue is possible with prolonged exposure or physical activity.

Symptoms & first aid for heat-related disorders


  • Redness and pain
  • In severe cases, swelling of skin, blisters, fever and headaches

FIRST AID: Apply ointments for mild cases when blisters appear but do not break. If blisters break, apply dry sterile dressing. Serious, extensive should be seen by a physician.

Heat cramps

  • Painful spasms, usually in muscles of legs and abdomen possible
  • Heavy sweating

FIRST AID: Place firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage them to relieve spasms. Give the victim sips of water, but stop if the victim feels nauseous.

Heat exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Wakness
  • Skin cold, pale and clammy
  • Pulse thready
  • Normal temperature possible
  • Fainting and vomiting

FIRST AID: Get the victim out of the sun. Lay them down and loosen their clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan or move the victim to air conditioning. Give the victim sips of water but stop if the victim feels nauseous. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.

Heat stroke or sun stroke

  • High body temperature (106 degrees or higher)
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness

FIRST AID: Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Summon emergency medical assistance or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.

Move the victim to a cooler environment. Reduce body temperature with cold bath or sponging. Use extreme caution. Remove clothing, use fans and air conditioners. If temperature rises again, repeat process. Do not give fluids. People on salt-restrictive diets should consult a physician before increasing their salt intake.