Arizona is one of the hottest places on earth from June to September. In addition to being uncomfortable, the heat can actually be harmful. People can suffer from heat-related illness when their bodies cannot properly cool themselves. Every year, people in Arizona get sick and even die from extreme heat.
The good news is that heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. Learn to beat the heat to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
"It's Hot Outside! Stay Cool. Stay Hydrated. Stay informed." information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Keep yourself cool to avoid heat-related illness.
- Stay indoors during the hottest times of the day. Seek out air-conditioned locations, such as libraries or malls.
- Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device. Getting wet in the shower or bath, then sitting in front of the fan may make it more efficient, but taking advantage of air conditioning is your best bet.
- Take cool showers or baths.
- Avoid outdoor activities or limit them to the morning and evening hours. Avoid direct sunlight.
- If you do go outside, wear loose, light-colored clothing and use a shade hat or an umbrella to block the sun.
- Check on those most at-risk twice a day. Learn more about who is most at risk.
Drink a lot of fluid to replace what you lose through sweat, which is your body's way of cooling itself.
- Drink more water than usual. How much water should you drink?
- Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink fluids.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeinated beverages or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.
- Remind others to drink more water than usual.
Check the weather forecast and plan heat-safe activities when it's hot outside.
- Check local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips. Learn about weather alerts.
- Pace yourself, schedule breaks from outside activities, and seek out shade.
- Plan to eat many small meals and snacks rather than a few big meals.
- Learn the signs of heat illness. If you think someone has heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately and begin cooling that person. Learn more about what to do in cases of heat illness.
What happens to the body as a result of exposure to extreme heat?
People have heat-related illnesses when the body's temperature control system is overloaded. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but sometimes sweating isn't enough and body temperature can rise rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other important organs and can lead to death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
How fast can body temperature rise to dangerous levels?
Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.
How many people get ill from the summer heat?
Nearly 800 people in Arizona are admitted to hospitals because of heat related illnesses each year. Each year 30-50 Arizonans die from heat-related illness.
Who is most at risk for heat-related illness?
Anyone and everyone is susceptible to heat-related illness, especially if they push themselves too hard during work or exercise, but some people are at a higher risk:
- Infants and children younger than 4 years old
- People age 65 and older
- People with heart disease or high blood pressure
- People who are overweight
- People who drink alcohol
- People taking certain medications1
- People who use illicit drugs1
1Some of the medications and substances that may put someone at higher risk for heat-related illness
- Alpha adrenergics (for blood pressure)
- Anticholinergics (for COPD – inhaler)
- Antihistamines (for allergies)
- Benzodiazepines (sedatives)
- Beta blockers (for hypertension or heart disease)
- Calcium channel blockers (for hypertension)
- Diuretics (for heart disease, fluid retention)
- Neuroleptics (antipsychotics)
- Phenothiazines (antipsychotics, anti-nausea)
- Thyroid agonists
- Tricyclic antidepressants (anti-depressants)
How much water should I drink during hot weather?
During hot weather you need to drink more than you think. Increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink at least two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour even if you're not thirsty. Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine because they will cause you to lose more fluid. Those exercising or working in hot weather should include sports beverages or juices in addition to water in their fluid intake.
What should I wear in hot weather?
Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. If you must go outdoors, avoid getting sunburned - that affects your body's ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids in addition to pain and skin damage. Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going out and reapply according to the package directions.
What should I do if I have to be active in the heat?
Pace yourself. If you are not used to working or exercising in the heat, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If your heart pounds and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or at least in the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak or faint.
Stages of Heat-Related Illnesses
•Muscle cramps - pain or spasms in arms, legs or abdomen
•Stop all activity
•Rest in cool place
•Drink water, juice or electrolyte fluid
•May cautiously resume prior activities if symptoms entirely resolve
•Rapid pulse rate, pulse may be weak
•Normal to slightly elevated temperature
•Shallow rapid breathing
•Lay person down flat in a cool area
•Give plenty of water or electrolyte fluids to drink if conscious
•Take a cool shower or bath
•Call 911 if the person vomits, refuses water, loses consciousness, or is not improved in an hour (can progress to heat stroke)
•Person should not return to strenuous activity in heat that day
•Loss of coordination
•Hot dry skin (no sweating)
•Strong rapid pulse
•Disorientation or erratic behavior
•High body temperature (greater than103°F)
•Unconsciousness or coma
•Call 911 or make arrangements for hospital transport
•Immediately move to shady/cooler area and start cooling person by loosening clothing and applying cool water or cloths soaked in cool water
•Do not give victim fluids to drink
Weather Service Alerts
The National Weather Service will issue alerts when the heat index is expected to exceed 105°- 110°F (depending on local climate) for at least two consecutive days. Heat index is a measure of how hot it really feels and better reflects the true impact on human bodies.
EXCESSIVE HEAT OUTLOOKS
Excessive heat outlooks are issued when an excessive heat event is possible in the next 3-7 days. An Outlook provides information to those who need time to prepare for the event, such as public utilities, emergency management and public health officials.
EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCHES
Excessive heat watches are issued when an excessive heat event could happen in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave is high, but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain. A Watch provides enough time so those who need to prepare can do so, such as cities that have excessive heat event plans.
EXCESSIVE HEAT ADVISORIES
Excessive heat advisories are issued when an excessive heat event is occurring or is expected in the next 36 hours. The advisory is for conditions that cause significant discomfort or inconvenience and, if caution is not taken, could lead to a threat to life and/or property.
EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNINGS
Excessive heat warnings are issued when an excessive heat event is occurring or is expected in the next 36 hours. The warning is used when the heat poses a threat to life or property.