Heat Illness

Guidelines for Preventing Heat Illness

  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must, do it during the cooler part of the day. Take frequent breaks. Stay out of the sun as much as you can.
  • Use the buddy system. If you have to work in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and/or clients.
  • Limit outdoor activity. Work inside during the hottest part of the day from 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Consider your health. Certain medications and health conditions can make you more susceptible to heat illness, check with your doctor.
  • Dress for the weather. Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. Wear a hat.
  • Thirsty or not, drink plenty of water throughout the day. Your body needs water to keep cool. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
  • Use a fan to stay cool. If air conditioning is not available in your home or workplace, try using a fan to stay cool. Fans cool the sweat from your body. Also, try closing the curtains to reduce the sun’s heat and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
  • Safety First. Never leave children, pets or older adults in the car, even for short errands. Cars will heat to over 110 degrees in a matter of minutes.
  • Monitor others. The effects of heat can build up over several days, watch young children and older adults closely.

Signs & Symptoms

Recognize the signs and symptoms of a heat emergency including:

  • Changes in consciousness
  • Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Headache
  • Heavy sweating
  • Hot, red skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Skin may be wet or dry depending on whether exercise or heavy work was recent

Helping a Person Showing Signs

Help a person showing signs of heat illness by doing the following:

  • Call 911 if symptoms exist
  • Move the person into the shade or into a cool area
  • Offer small drinks of water every 15 minutes
  • Sponge with cool water until help arrives

Sources: American Red Cross and NC Department of Health and Human Services

Quick Links