Homeland Security and Emergency Services

Safety Precautions

What can you do during excessive heat events?

  • Slow down on strenuous activity and exercise, especially during the sun's peak hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Exercise should be done in the early morning between 4 to 7 a.m.

  • Eat less protein and more fruits and vegetables. Protein produces and increases metabolic heat, which causes water loss. Eat small meals, but eat more often. Do not eat salty foods.

  • Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body. These are necessary for your body and must be replaced. The easiest and safest way to do this is through your diet. Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage when you exercise or work in the heat.

  • If possible, stay out of the sun and stay in air-conditioning. Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself. The sun will also heat the inner core of your body, resulting in dehydration. If you must go outdoors, wear sunscreen with a high sun protector factor rating (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head.

  • Dress appropriately. When outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing that will cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects the heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn and over-warming effects of sunlight on your body.

  • Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Even in the warmest weather, staying indoors, out of the sunshine, is safer than long periods of exposure to the sun.

  • If your home is not air-conditioned, go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours. Air-conditioned locations are the safest places during extreme heat because electric fans do not cool the air. Fans do help sweat evaporate, which gives a cooling effect.

  • Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water (at least 2-4 glasses of water per hour during extreme heat), even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.

  • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. Salt causes the body to retain fluids, resulting in swelling. Salt affects areas of your body that help you sweat, which would keep you cool. Persons on salt-restrictive diets should check with a physician before increasing salt intake.

Household Chores

  • Do heat and moisture-producing jobs such as cooking, cleaning, ironing and laundry during the cooler early morning and evening hours.

  • Air-dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s heat drying cycle.

  • Avoid unnecessary trips in and out of the house, especially on very hot days. Heat and humidity come in each time you open the door.