Extreme heat affects the body's ability to regulate temperature which can create dangerous conditions if appropriate safety measures are not taken. Heat may affect air quality, especially in urban areas, and may have a stronger impact on the eldery, children, and sick persons.
Before periods of extreme and excessive heat:
- Check your air conditioning to ensure it is in good, working condition.
- Weather strip doors and window sills to keep cool air in.
During periods of extreme and excessive heat:
- Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and fruit juice, to prevent dehydration. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and overly sweetened beverages.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes.
- Avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade and wear sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Stay in air-conditioned areas when possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, consider a visit to a shopping mall or public library or stay with family or friends who have air conditioning. Contact your local health department to see if there are cooling shelters open in your area. Maryland residents in need of energy assistance to keep cool should call 2-1-1, Maryland’s information and referral service, to see if there are resources available to help.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but will not prevent heat-related illnesses on very hot days.
- NEVER leave pets or children in a car, even with the windows cracked.
- Check on elderly relatives or neighbors at least daily, and make sure they have a cool environment to live in during extreme heat.
- Take it easy when outdoors. Athletes and those who work outdoors should take short breaks when feeling fatigued. Schedule physical activity during the morning or evening when it is cooler.
Understand the illnesses associated with extreme and excessive heat:
Heat cramps are caused by a loss of water and salt from heavy sweating. Heat cramps can cause muscle pains and spasms. They are not as serious as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To treat heat cramps, get the victim to a cool place to rest comfortably. Lightly stretch the cramped muscle, and give the person plenty of liquids.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat stroke that may develop due to a combination of several days with high temperatures and dehydration in an individual. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; extreme weakness; muscle cramps; nausea; or headache. Victims may also vomit or faint. Heat exhaustion is treated with plenty of liquids and rest in a cool, shaded area. Those on a low-sodium diet or with other health problems should contact a doctor. Get medical attention if heat exhaustion symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour.
Heat stroke is a serious illness characterized by a body temperature greater than 105 degrees. Symptoms may include dry, red skin; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; convulsions; disorientation; delirium; and coma. Onset of heat stroke can be rapid; serious symptoms can occur within minutes. Treatment involves the rapid lowering of body temperature using a cool bath or wet towels. If the victim refuses water, is vomiting or has fainted, do not give anything to eat or drink. Keep victims of heat stroke in a cool area and immediately call 911.
During these extreme conditions, listen to the radio, watch television news, and make sure you've signed up for Alert Montgomery, to receive all the latest information.
For more information on extreme heat and humidity, visit Ready.gov