CHICAGO — Summer is here, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants individuals and families to understand how to cope with extreme heat.
“A combination of high temperatures and high humidity creates a dangerous situation in which heat-induced illnesses are likely,” said Andrew Velasqez III, FEMA Region V administrator. “The key to survival is to know what to do before and during a period of extreme heat.”
During extremely hot weather, you should take the following precautions:
• Become familiar with the emergency plans of your community, school, caregivers and workplace.
• Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
• Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine and limit exposure to the sun.
• Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities that are air conditioned.
• Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
• Drink plenty of water. People who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
• Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
• Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
• Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
• Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone. It is especially important to check on the elderly, disabled and those with functional needs.
• Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
• Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
To prepare for extreme heat:
• Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
• Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
• Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
• Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
• Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
• Keep storm windows up all year.
• If you are without air conditioning, you can use box fans and ceiling fans to promote air-circulation throughout your home. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
Extreme heat brings with it the possibility of heat-induced illnesses, including severe symptoms, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Understand your symptoms, and take the appropriate actions, seeking medical attention if your conditions are severe.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation, we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.