Tips to Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses
Learn the signs of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them.
A predicted heat wave for most of the state could bring a dangerous mix of high temperatures and high humidity.
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.
“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,” said Director Shah. “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, visit 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.
Visit the IDPH website for more heat-related information.