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Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather

Sun rising over mountainsLearn about heat-related illness and how to stay cool and safe in hot weather.

Getting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can't compensate for it and properly cool you off. Heat exposure can even kill you: it caused 7,233 heat-related deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2009.

Main things affecting your body's ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather:

  • High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won't evaporate as quickly, which keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to.
  • Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.

Photo: SunglassesPeople at greatest risk for heat-related illness can take the following protective actions to prevent illness or death:

  • People who are at highest risk are the elderly, the very young, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness.
  • Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
  • Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned.

Photo: Tourist with bottle of waterTake these steps to prevent heat-related illnesses, injuries, and deaths during hot weather:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned indoor location as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully.
    • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.
    • Pace yourself.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Do not leave children or pets in cars.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.
  • Page last reviewed: June 30, 2014
  • Page last updated: June 30, 2014
  • Content source:
    • National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
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