Here’s guidance from the National Weather Service (NWS)1, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)3 , the American Red Cross4, and the National Integrated Heat Health Information System5 to help you in case of extreme heat in your area.
- Know your area’s risk. There are several vulnerable groups that are susceptible to extreme heat illnesses during an event: athletes, individuals with chronic medical conditions, women who are pregnant, infants and children, adults over 65, outdoor workers, and low income households. You can identify your county’s risk for heat, combined with social vulnerabilities, at the , opens new window page.
- Make a plan. Create a plan that includes the steps your family can take in response to extreme heat, such as identifying locations that have air conditioning (i.e., shopping malls, public cooling centers, etc.), ensuring you have enough water supply, and understanding how to watch for heat illnesses. You should also prepare to stay properly hydrated by drinking enough water, avoiding sugary or caffeinated drinks, and replacing salts and minerals that are leaving your body.
Recognize warnings and alerts for heat. It is important in all disasters that you recognize your community’s warning system.
Excessive Heat Warning: An Excessive Heat Warning is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions with the maximum heat index temperature reaching 105 degrees or higher.
Excessive Heat Watch: Heat Watches are issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased, but its occurrence and timing are still uncertain.
Heat Advisory: A Heat Advisory is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions with the maximum heat index temperature reaching 100 degrees or higher.
Excessive Heat Outlook: An Outlook is issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days and provides information to those who need considerable lead-time to prepare for the event.
- Car safety. Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. Within 10 minutes, the inside temperature can increase by 20 degrees and become deadly.
- Prepare your home.
- Ensure windows have shades.
- Weather-strip doors and windows.
- Insulate your home.
- Install window air conditioners with insulation.
- Use window reflectors, such as aluminum foil covered cardboard, to reflect the heat.
- “National Weather Service safety tips,” last accessed April 19, 2021, , opens new window
- “Disaster information,” last accessed April 19, 2021, , opens new window
- “Natural disasters and severe weather,” last accessed April 19, 2021, , opens new window
- “Heat Wave Safety,” last accessed July 20, 2021, American Red Cross, , opens new window
- “Planning and Preparing,” last accessed July 20, 2021, National Integrated Heat Health Information System, , opens new window