Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Despite this fact, more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year. You can beat the heat by taking specific steps to protect yourself and others.
Those at greatest risk for heat-related illness include infants and children up to four years of age, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. The skin may be cool and moist; sweating may or may not occur. The pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If untreated, heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat stroke include a body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit; red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness. Heat stroke is a serious condition; even if treated, many people with heat stroke will die.
Stay hydrated and cool. Drink plenty of hydrating fluids such as water; seek out air-conditioned spaces and spend even short periods of time there; wear light clothing; reduce activity; and plan outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day. While electric fans may provide some comfort, they are not effective in cooling the body when the temperature and humidity are high. A cool shower or bath, or spending time in an air conditioned location such as a mall or movie theatre, is a more effective way to cool off.
During heat waves, check on the elderly, disabled, or homebound people to ensure their safety. Never leave children in cars or similar enclosed spaces, and make sure they aren't able to lock themselves in an enclosed space such as a car trunk.
For more information, visit Extreme Heat at the CDC.