Advance planning prior to a heat wave can make you and your family better prepared to cope with the effects of a heat wave. A heat wave is likely to affect young children, elderly people, and people with health problems.
- People with a medical condition that causes poor blood circulation and those who take medications to get rid of water from the body or diuretics or for certain mental conditions, may be more susceptible.
- Consult with a physician if you have any questions about how your medication may affect your ability to tolerate heat.
- Be prepared for heat emergencies. Meet with family members to discuss and finalize your family disaster plan.
- Discuss what each member of the family would do during a heat wave.
- Discuss the safest and coolest places to be at home, at work or at school.
Know the following terms:
- Heat Wave. A prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity. The National Weather Service steps up its procedures to alert the public during these periods of excessive heat and humidity.
- Heat Index. A number in degrees Fahrenheit that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Safety Tips for Heat Waves
- Stay indoors as much as possible. If your home is not air conditioned, consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities.
- Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Drink plenty of water regularly even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages. Although beer and alcoholic beverages appear to satisfy thirst, they actually cause further body dehydration.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Dress in loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body temperature.
- Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid too much sunshine. Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating (i.e., 15 or greater).
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
For further information about the effects of extreme heat and how to treat a heat emergency, please see the following:
Red Cross Heat Wave Safety
Ready Wisconsin on Extreme Heat (Select Extreme Heat tab under the Natural Disasters section)