Did you know that heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States? The National Weather Service’s heat index criteria help us prepare for hot weather and prevent it from becoming a “silent killer.”

The groups most at risk during heat waves include the elderly (65+), babies and young children, individuals with pre-existing or chronic conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, mental illness, developmental disabilities, dementia, respiratory conditions, asthma, and obesity), the unsheltered/homeless, outdoor workers and athletes, people without air conditioning, those living alone and socially isolated, people taking diuretics (including caffeine, alcohol, or illegal drugs), and pets.

To prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • Avoid the sun by staying indoors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Drink 2 to 4 glasses of water every hour during extreme heat.
  • Replenish salt and minerals with low-sugar fruit juices or sports drinks.
  • Avoid alcohol, as it can cause dehydration and increase heat illness risk.
  • Pace yourself by reducing physical activity and avoiding outdoor exercise during peak heat hours.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes outdoors.
  • Stay cool indoors with air conditioning between 75° to 80°, or take cool showers and visit public air-conditioned places if you don’t have AC. Use drapes, insulation, attic fans, and window air conditioners to keep your home cool.
  • Monitor high-risk individuals, such as the elderly, infants, children up to 4 years old, and people who overexert themselves during work or exercise.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 when in the sun.
  • Keep pets safe by keeping them indoors or ensuring they have water and shade outside. Never leave pets alone in a vehicle.

Learn more about preparing for extreme heat here.