Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

American Red Cross provides tips to avoid heat-related illness

Beat the heat this weekend! The American Red Cross recommends taking three steps to stay safe in extreme heat: slow down, stay hydrated, and spend time indoors. Learn more about these tips (and how to keep your furry friends safe) as summer heats up.
redcross-water
Photo Courtesy American Red Cross

According to the American Red Cross, experts are warning that much of the U.S. could be facing hotter than normal conditions this summer as the climate crisis drives higher temperatures. 2023 was the hottest year on record, and scientists warn that 2024 could break records for a second year in a row. Unusually hot days and heat waves are both a natural part of our weather patterns, however, since the 1960s, heat waves have become more frequent and intense, and are lasting longer in the US.

HEAT SAFETY

Heat-related deaths and illnesses can be prevented, but extreme heat still claims the lives of people in this country every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As heat waves become more common and last longer, heat-related deaths are also on the rise with some 2,300 occurring in 2023 alone.

What You Should Do

The American Red Cross recommends taking three steps to stay safe in extreme heat: slow down, stay hydrated and spend time indoors.

  • Slow down by postponing or limiting outdoor activities. If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks and avoid the hottest part of the day. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle alone.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. Check that animals also have access to fresh water and shade.
  • Spend time indoors in an air-conditioned place. If you don’t have air conditioning, go to a public library, shopping mall or public cooling center. Check on loved ones and neighbors who may be at risk and don’t have air conditioning.

Hot weather can prove dangerous for your furry friends. Check out these steps you can take to help keep your pets safe during extreme heat.

heatwave

During hot weather, people might become ill from heat-related conditions and it’s critical to act fast. Heat illness can be prevented, and the Red Cross recommends learning the warning signs and how to help so you can react quickly.

Heat can make anyone ill, but older adults, the very young, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions are more at risk. People who work outdoors, have limited personal resources and live in places that lack green spaces are also at higher risk.

Heat cramps are an early sign of trouble and include heavy sweating with muscle pains or spasms. To help, move the person to a cooler place and encourage them to drink water. Get medical help if symptoms last longer than an hour or if the person has heart problems.

heat_cramps

Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition signaled by cool, pale and clammy skin; a fast or weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; tiredness or weakness; or a headache, dizziness or passing out. To help, move the person to a cooler place, loosen tight clothing, encourage them to sip water slowly. Use wet cloths, misting or fanning to help cool them off. Get medical help right away if symptoms get worse or last longer than an hour, or if the person begins vomiting or acting confused.

Heat stroke is a deadly condition that requires immediate medical help. Symptoms include a high body temperature; hot, red, dry or damp skin; a fast or strong pulse; a headache or dizziness; or nausea, confusion and passing out. Call 911 right away if you think someone may have heat stroke. Then move the person to a cool place, and use wet cloths, misting or fanning to help cool them off. Do not give the person anything to drink.

Download the free Emergency app for critical heat safety information and real-time weather alerts and the free Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll know what to do if emergency help is delayed. Content is available in English and Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find both apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

Sources

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or follow us on social media.