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Illinois Department of Public Health Heat Safety Tips

Hot weather
(Source: Companions Forever)
By: Rosemary Piser

Hot weather with high humidity is forecasted for the next several days in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D. is reminding people about the importance of staying cool in order to avoid heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Dr. Shah said, “Hot weather can cause heat-related illness which ranges in severity from relatively mild heat cramps to life-threatening heat stroke.  It’s important for people to recognize the signs of heat-related illness and take action to prevent becoming sick.  Normally, the body cools itself by sweating.  However, if temperatures and humidity are extremely high, sweating is not effective in maintaining the body’s normal temperature.  If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, a person may suffer a heat-related illness, which can become serious or even deadly.”

Heat-related death or illnesses are preventable if you follow a few simple steps.

  • Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day.  If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, go to a public place such as a shopping mall or a library to stay cool.  Cooling stations and senior centers are also available in many large cities for people of all ages.  To find cooling centers in State facilities go to https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/KeepCool/SitePages/CoolingCenters.aspx.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Drink water often.  Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or in a building without air-conditioning.

Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illness.  Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.

Never leave anyone, including pets, alone in a closed, parked vehicle.  The air temperature inside a car rises rapidly during hot weather and can lead to brain damage or death.

Heat-related illness What to look for What to do
Heat stroke – Body temperature 103ºF or higher

– Hot, red, dry or damp skin

– Fast, strong pulse

– Headache

– Feeling dizzy

– Nausea

– Feeling confused

– Passing out

Call 9-1-1 right away.  Heat stroke is a medical emergency.

– Move the person to a cooler place

– Lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath

– Do NOT give the person anything to drink

Heat exhaustion – Heavy sweating

– Cold, pale, and clammy skin

– Fast, weak pulse

– Nausea or vomiting

– Muscle cramps

– Feeling tired or week

– Feeling dizzy

– Headache

– Passing out

– Move to a cool place

– Loosen clothing

– Use cool, wet cloths or take a cool bath

– Sip water



– You are throwing up

– Symptoms get worse

– Symptoms last longer than an hour

Heat cramps – Heavy sweating during intense exercise

– Muscle pain or spasms

– Stop physical activity and move to a cool place

– Drink water or a sports drink

– Wait for cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity


– Cramps last longer than an hour

– You’re on a low-sodium diet

– You have heart problems

Heat rash Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases) – Stay in a cool, dry place

– Keep the rash dry

– Use powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash

Sunburn – Painful, red, and warm skin

– Blisters on the skin

– Stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals

– Put cool cloths on sunburned areas or take a cool bath

– Put moisturizing lotion on sunburned areas

– Do NOT break blisters

For additional information, visit www.dph.illinois.gov for heat related information.

Source: www.illinois.gov


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