Hot Weather

Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake, activities, and clothing during hot weather can help you stay safe and healthy. These self-help measures are not a substitute for medical care but may help you recognize and respond promptly to warning signs of trouble.

Tip sheet on staying cool:

You may also have to cope with power failures during extremely warm temperatures. Your community may have a place for you to go if power is not available for an extended period of time.

Basics

The body needs to maintain an internal temperature of 98.6°F to function properly. When it is hot outside, the body becomes challenged to stay cool. When the internal temperature rises, the human body’s ability to perform critical functions becomes impaired and a person becomes at risk for serious negative health effects. Extreme heat events can cause a range of health problems from relatively minor health issues, such as a heat rash, to life-threatening conditions, such as heat stroke. Extreme heat can make chronic diseases worse and can increase levels of some air pollutants that can affect people’s health.

See also: Heat-related illnesses

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Who is at risk?

Everyone can be affected by extreme heat, but some people may be more susceptible or ‘at risk’ for a heat-related illness. Some factors may increase their exposure to extreme heat and some factors may affect their body’s ability to stay cool. Below are characteristics or risk factors that increase the risk of experiencing an illness from extreme heat.

  • Children less than 5 years old
  • Persons 65 years or older
  • Persons with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or mental illness
  • Persons on medications that affect circulation or thermoregulation (the body’s ability to maintain a normal body temperature)
  • Persons who work or exercise outdoors
  • Persons experiencing long exposure to the sun
  • Persons living in homes without air conditioning
  • Persons living in top floor apartments
  • Persons living alone

MDH developed a set of statewide maps showing some of these populations in Minnesota. Access the maps of populations at risk to extreme heat at the link below.

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How can heat-related illness be prevented?

Air conditioning is the best defense against extreme heat, even if for just a few hours a day. To reduce the risk, consider visiting a shopping mall, a public library, or another public building with cool air for a few hours. Taking a cool shower or bath can also provide some relief.

Electric fans may provide comfort but should be used in rooms or buildings with open windows. When the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness and should not be used.

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MDH Heat Links:

External Heat Links:

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Updated Monday, 14-Apr-2014 08:03:49 CDT