Reducing the Risk of Heat-Related Illness

By Kindred Healthcare
Reducing the Risk of Heat-Related IllnessEarlier this week, we discussed heat safety and various factors that can contribute to heat-related illness. Below are ways to reduce your risk as well as first aid tips.


Stay tuned to local weather news for heat alerts or warnings as you plan your outdoor activities. Be aware of the Heat Index, which factors in humidity levels as well as air temperature. With relative humidity at just 55 percent, 92 degrees has a Heat Index temperature of 101.

If you’re outside:

  • Drink plenty of water, limit caffeinated beverages and avoid alcohol.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, light-colored clothes.
  • Keep activities light (or stay indoors during the hottest part of the day).
  • Make sure your skin is protected to avoid sunburn.
  • Rest frequently and don’t overdo.

If you’re traveling in the car:

  • Before you buckle up the family, check surfaces to avoid burns.
  • Never leave kids, disabled adults or pets in parked vehicles.
  • Lock your car when you park it, even at home, and make sure kids know not to play around or in parked vehicles.

For more information, the National Institutes of Health offers advice for the elderly on reducing heat risks. Be sure to check on elderly and those with disability or who are experiencing limited mobility due to surgery or recovery. Ensure they are safe and have access to water and a cool environment.

Heat-related illness first aid (from the National Weather Service)

Heat cramps

  • Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm.
  • Give sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue water.

Heat exhaustion

  • Move person to a cooler environment.
  • Remove or loosen clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths.
  • Fan or move victim to air conditioned room.
  • Offer sips of water. If nausea occurs, discontinue water. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.

Heatstroke (or sunstroke)

  • Heatstroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.
  • Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment.
  • Reduce body temperature with a water mister and fan or sponging.
  • Use fan if Heat Index temperatures are below the high 90s.
  • Use extreme caution.
  • If temperature rises again, repeat process.
  • Do NOT give fluids.