How to Prevent Heat Related Illness

While extreme heat can be dangerous for everyone, the effects are more severe for adults over 65, infants, children and people who suffer from certain medical conditions. Heat-related illnesses like dehydration and heat exhaustion kill hundreds of Americans each year. If you must be outdoors in hot temperatures, prevent heat-related illness by keeping your body cooled off and monitoring your hydration.


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    Wear the appropriate clothing for the activity in which you are participating.
    • Dress in layers if you'll be outside in temperatures that fluctuate throughout the day so you can remove clothing as you get warmer.
    • Wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing so air can easily circulate through and around your body.
    • Avoid dark clothing, which heats up faster in direct sunlight.
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    Drink lots of cool fluids to keep your body hydrated. The more hydrated your body, the better it can regulate body heat. Water and sports drinks that replenish electrolytes are both good hydration choices. Never drink alcoholic beverages when you feel hot. Alcohol will only dehydrate your body more.
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    Get to a cool area if you feel hot. The best place to be on an extremely hot day is in a building with air conditioning. If you must be outside, find a shady area to sit and cool off.
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    Check with your doctor if you are taking any medications that may be affected by heat. Follow all doctor or pharmacist recommendations for your medications.
    • Prescription medications that affect the body's ability to cool itself off include some high blood pressure medications, antipsychotic medications and even some allergy medications.
    • Illicit drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines can also affect body temperature.
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    Wear sunscreen any time you are outdoors to protect your skin and also prevent heat-related illness. Sunburn heats up your body, causing it to loose more fluids and preventing it from cooling down.
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    Acclimate yourself to the hot temperatures. This is especially important if you are traveling to an area that is much hotter than you are used to. Spend short amounts of time outdoors to get used to the temperature without doing any strenuous activity. Slowly increase the time until your body feels adjusted.
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    Schedule outdoor activities during cooler daytime hours. Mornings and evenings are generally cooler because the sun is not directly overhead.


  • If you decide to exercise in extremely hot weather, find a friend to exercise with you. Never go running or engage in other strenuous activities alone on a hot day.
  • If your home is not air conditioned, find a public building to relax and cool off. Malls, libraries, city buildings, churches or cooling shelters are all good places to cool off on a hot day.
  • Drink water frequently during a hot day. If you wait until you are thirsty, your body may already be experiencing ill-effects of too much heat.


  • Be aware of your body and watch for preliminary signs of dehydration and heat-related illness such as dry mouth, headaches or dizziness.
  • When in hot temperatures, skin should be hot. If your skin feels cool and moist you should rest in a shaded area and drink fluids immediately. Goose bumps on the skin of someone who has been exposed to high temperatures are also a sign of heat exhaustion.

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Categories: Heat and Cold Injuries