CALS Wellness Committee tip: Keeping cool and staying safe in severe heat
Summer is here, and with summer comes the occasional severe heat. In preparation for your summer fun, here is information about how to stay cool and safe in high temperatures.
Tips for preventing heat-related illness from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Choose lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing
- Stay in air-conditioned places as much as possible
- Limit outdoor activities to the morning and evening
- Cut down on intensive outdoor exercise, especially if you find yourself with a rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing
- Take breaks in the shade
- Turn on misting sprinklers for people to walk-through
- Get into the water (Learning windsurfing or kayaking with Hoofers will wonderfully get you in the water)
- Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn
- Avoid heavy and hot meals
- Do not leave children or animals in vehicles
- Drink more fluids regardless of how thirsty you may feel
- Stay away from sugary and alcoholic drinks
- Replace salt and minerals that your body loses during heavy sweating with sports drinks
- Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets
- Check for local updates on extreme heat alerts
- Learn about any cooling shelters in the area
- Know the signs of heat-related illness
- Monitor young children, the elderly, and those who may be ill
Reducing the risk of heat-related illness
Extreme heat is defined as summertime temperatures that are hotter and more humid than normal and can differ from place to place. Humidity often makes it feel hotter than it really is.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke occur when the body is unable to properly cool itself. While normally our bodies cool by sweating, in extreme heat this isn’t enough, and the body heats faster than it can cool. This overheating can then cause damage to the brain and other vital organs. Factors that can increase the risk of developing a heat related disease include:
- High humidity
- Prescription drug use
- Heart disease
- Mental illness
- Poor circulation
- Alcohol use
Older adults, small children/infants, and people with mental illness or a chronic disease are most at risk for developing heat-related illness. However, even the healthiest of people are at risk if they overwork their bodies in this weather. Make sure your family and you are staying cool and hydrated to avoid the risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Where can I stay cool?
If your home location is not cool, stay in air-conditioned places when it is helpful. Spend times with friends or just with your laptop at the Wisconsin Union (Memorial Union and Union South) as much as possible. Public libraries in Madison are also a good option.
Check out the two infographics below for what symptoms to look for and how to treat different heat-related illnesses. Check out the following websites to learn more about safety in extreme heat.
- Heat Wave Safety/About Heat Waves (from American Red Cross)
- Heat Safety Tips and Resources (from the National Weather Service)
- Working in Indoor and Outdoor Heat Environments (from OSHA)