Overexertion or overexposure during extreme heat can cause many heat related illnesses. It is important to minimize activity and exposure as much as possible. Persons who are sick or overweight and older adults or children are more likely to be effected by heat related illnesses. It is important to take protective measures during extreme heat to minimize the risks for you and your family.
For a list of current cooling centers, click here.
Heat Watch vs. Heat Warning
Know the difference between a watch and warning and what triggers the National Weather Service to issue them:
Excessive Heat Watch
Issued by the National Weather Service when heat indices in excess of 105F (41C) during the day combined with nighttime low temperatures of 80F (27C) or higher are forecast to occur for two consecutive days.
Excessive Heat Warning
Issued within 12 hours of the onset of the following criteria: heat index of at least 105F for more than 3 hours per day for 2 consecutive days, or heat index more than 115F for any period of time.
The following content is from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, with modifications for local use.
Before Extreme Heat
- Check to see if your home’s cooling system is working properly.
- Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the cool air inside.
- Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside, and weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
- Keep storm windows up all year.
- Learn about the types of medical conditions that can result from heat waves, and the proper first aid measures that should be taken. Heat exhaustion symptoms are heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale and clammy skin, a thready pulse, and possible fainting and vomiting.
- Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency that occurs when the body temperature reaches 106° F or higher. Symptoms include hot dry skin, rapid and strong pulse, and possible unconsciousness. Summon immediate emergency medical assistance.
During Extreme Heat
- Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
- Drink plenty of fluids and replace salts and minerals in your body. Anyone on a fluid-restricted diet or who has a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake. People with epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease should also consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Spend time in air-conditioned places. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spend some time each day in an air-conditioned environment such as public libraries, shopping malls or other indoor public spaces. For a list of Richmond County Cooling Centers, click here.
- Stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.