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Extreme Heat

Extreme heat is a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days. In extreme heat your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to death. In fact, extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.


      • Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning.
      • Older adults, children and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.
      • Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.


      • Find air conditioning.
      • Avoid strenuous activities.
      • Wear light clothing.
      • Check on family members and neighbors.
      • Drink plenty of fluids.
      • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
      • Never leave people or pets in a closed car.


Prepare NOW

      • Find places in your community where you can go to get cool.
      • Try to keep your home cool:
      • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
      • Cover windows with drapes or shades.
      • Weather-strip doors and windows.
      • Use window reflectors such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard to reflect heat back outside.
      • Add insulation to keep the heat out.
      • Use a powered attic ventilator, or attic fan, to regulate the heat level of a building’s attic by clearing hot air.
      • Install window air conditioners and insulate around them.
      • Learn to recognize the signs of heat illness. For more information visit:


      • Never leave a child, adult, or animal alone inside a vehicle on a warm day. 
      • Contact Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help.
      • Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
      • Spend some time at a shopping mall or public library- even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help.
      • Your community may set up emergency alternatives for cooling centers, such as using parked air-conditioned buses or movie theaters. Pay attention to guidance from local officials to determine where the nearest cooling center is.
      • Take cool showers or baths.
      • Don’t rely solely on fans to keep you cool. While electric fans might provide some comfort, when temperatures are really hot, they won’t prevent heat-related illness.
      • Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.
      • If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face. 
      • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
      • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you or someone you care for is on a special diet, ask a doctor what would be best. 
      • Do not use electric fans when the temperature outside is more than 95 degrees. You could increase the risk of heat-related illness. Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but do not reduce body temperature.
      • Avoid high-energy activities outdoors. Avoid working outdoors during the midday heat, if possible.

Recognize and Respond


Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs

Actions: Go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. If you are sick and need medical attention, call your healthcare provider first. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about whether you should go to the hospital or cooler location yourself, as you may be putting others or yourself in greater risk for contracting COVID-19. If cramps last more than an hour, seek medical attention. If possible, put on a mask before medical help arrives.


Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea, vomiting

Actions: Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Call your healthcare provider if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.



    • Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) taken orally
    • Red, hot and dry skin with no sweat
    • Rapid, strong pulse
    • Dizziness, confusion or unconsciousness

Actions: Call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.

Additional Resources:

Summer Safety Information Sheet (PDF)

Personal Care for Extreme Heat and Community Mitigation

Protective Actions Research for Extreme Heat

National Weather Service Heat Safety Tips and Resources

National Weather Service - Dangers of Heat

National Weather Service - Safety During Heat Wave

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Integrated Heat Health Information System

US Dept. of Labor OSHA Heat Stress Guide

National Safety Council - Surviving the Hot Weather

FEMA Preparing for Extreme Heat (PDF)

Occupational Heat Exposure (PDF)

PO Box 460715, Papillion, NE 68046


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