Heat Safety

Preventing Heat-Related Injuries

Practice heat safety wherever you go!

Prevent Heat-related Illnesses

Being aware of temperature is a top priority during the hot summer months.

It takes only 10 minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to rise 20 degrees. For infants and kids in particular, this increase is enough to result in death. Their young bodies cannot handle high heat (as well as adults) and require extra care—even on warm summer days.

With higher temperatures occurring more days of the year across the U.S., keeping infants and kids out of hot vehicles is an important issue for every family.

Learn more >>

Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) has resulted in the death of 971 kids since 1998. All of these deaths could have been prevented.

The most dangerous mistake a parent or caregiver can make is leaving a kid alone in a hot vehicle. Vehicles can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures—even if the windows are cracked open!

Anyone left in a hot parked vehicle is at risk! However, kids are especially at risk of having a vehicular heatstroke or dying.

When traveling during the summer, it is important to remember to:

  • Never leave infants or kids in a parked vehicle—even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Keep a stuffed animal in the vehicle—when the kid(s) are buckled into their car seat(s) or booster seat(s), place the stuffed animal in the front of the vehicle with the driver.
  • When leaving the vehicle, check to make sure everyone is out— DO NOT overlook any kids who may have fallen asleep in the vehicle.

Learn more at noheatstroke.org >>

The inside of a vehicle heats up VERY quickly. Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach up to 125 degrees in only a matter of minutes!

Be mindful of these vital facts:

  • A kid’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult’s body.
  • 80% of the increase in a vehicle’s inside temperature happens in the first 10 minutes.
  • Cracking windows DOES NOT HELP to slow the heating process or to decrease the maximum temperature.
  • Kids can die from vehicular heatstroke when outside temperatures are as low as 60 degrees.

Rear-facing car seats look the same to a driver (regardless of whether there is an infant, or a kid seated and buckled in).

Additionally, kids (especially infants) often fall asleep in rear-facing car seats and are easy to overlook!

Below are reasons why young passengers get left alone in hot vehicles:

  • Change(s) in their parent’s or caretaker’s daily routine
  • Distractions
  • Lack of sleep or fatigue
  • Stress

It is essential for parents and caretakers to take care of themselves in order to be safe and do their best in caring for young passengers.

Source: Kids and Car Safety, Healthy Children, National Council for Safety (NCS), National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), and No Heat Stroke.

Safety Tips for Kids

Make sure your infant or kid is never left alone in a car:

  • Place your diaper bag (or other item) in the front passenger seat of the vehicle as a visual reminder of the young passenger is with you.
  • Make it a habit to open the back door every time you park to ensure no one is left behind. To enforce this habit, place an item that you can’t start your day without in the back seat (employee badge, laptop, phone, handbag, etc.)
  • Communicate clearly with the person responsible for removing each young passenger from the vehicle once you reach your destination. Miscommunication can lead to a forgotten passenger!

Make sure kids cannot get into a parked car:

  • Keep vehicles locked at all times, especially in the garage or driveway. Ask neighbors and visitors to do the same.
  • Never leave car keys within reach of kids.
  • Use childproofing knob covers and door alarms to prevent young kids from exiting your home unnoticed.
  • Teach kids to honk the horn or turn on hazard lights if they become stuck inside a car.
  • IF A KID IS MISSING: Immediately check the inside, floorboards, and trunk of ALL vehicles (in the area) carefully, even if they’re locked!

Additional Safety Tips:

  • Before placing your infant or kid in a car seat, check for hot straps or buckles. If you park in direct sunlight, cover the car seat with a towel or blanket.
  • Never leave kids alone in or around carsnot even for a minute!
  • If you see an infant or kid alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the infant or kid seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.
  • Be especially careful during busy times, schedule changes, and periods of crisis or holidays. This is when many tragedies occur.
  • Use drive-thru services (if available) such as restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, and pay for gas at the pump.

Source: Kids and Hot Car Safety

Safety Tips for Older Adults

Approximately 1,220 people in the U.S. are killed by extreme heat every year.

When the temperature climbs above 80°F, older adults need to be proactive and take precautions to avoid ailments due to excessive heat.

Share safety tips & keep cool:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of cool water, clear juices, and other liquids that don’t contain alcohol or caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine cause you to lose water in your body by making you urinate more.
  • Stay away from direct sun exposure as much as possible. If possible, plan your outdoor activities either early in the morning or when the sun starts to set.
  • Air conditioning is your friend in summer. Spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned spaces. If you don’t have an air conditioner, go somewhere that is air-conditioned. For example, read a book at the library, walk around in indoor malls, watch that new movie at the theater, or meet your friends at the senior center.Tip: The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps adults 65 and older who have limited incomes cover the cost of air conditioners and utility bills. To reach your state’s LIHEAP program, call 1-866-674-6327. 

Source: Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute on Aging (NIH).

Heat-related Illnesses are Preventable

It’s important to recognize when hot weather is making you sick, and when to get help. Learn the symptoms and what to do if you or a loved one shows signs of having a heat-related illness.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

What it is: A loss of water in your body. It can be serious if not treated.

Warning signs: Weakness, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion, and passing out.

What to do: Drink plenty of water and, if possible, sports drinks such as Gatorade™, which contain important salts called “electrolytes.” Among other things, electrolytes play a key role in regulating your heartbeat. Your body loses electrolytes when you’re dehydrated. If you don’t feel better, call 911. If you feel better after drinking fluids, but have medical conditions like heart failure or take diuretics (“water pills”), you should also call your healthcare provider for a follow-up.

What it is: Heat cramps usually affect workers who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture levels. Low salt levels in muscles cause painful cramps. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

Warning signs: Heavy sweating during intense exercise. Muscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs.

What to do: 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.

Get medical help right away if:

  • you have cramps last longer than 1 hour
  • you are on a low-sodium diet
  • you have heart problems

What it is: A very dangerous rise in your body temperature, which may happen gradually over days of heat exposure in older adults. It can be deadly.

Warning signs: A body temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher; red, hot, and dry skin; a fast pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea or vomiting; confusion or lethargy; and passing out.

What to do: Call 911 immediately. Move to a cool, shady place and take off or loosen heavy clothes. If possible, douse yourself with cool water, or put cloths soaked with cool water on your wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck to lower your temperature. Try to see if you can safely swallow water or sports drinks while waiting for 911.

Note: If you are caring for someone else who has heat stroke, only give them water or drinks if they are awake and can swallow. Do not try to give fluids by mouth if the person is drowsy, as it could cause choking.

What it is: A serious health problem caused by too much heat and dehydration. If not treated, it may lead to heat stroke (see above).

Warning signs: Heavy sweating or no sweating, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, paleness, cold or clammy skin, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fast and weak pulse, fainting. Body temperature is generally between 98.6°F (37°C) and 104°F (40°C).

What to do: Without delay, move to a cool, shady place, and drink plenty of cool fluids, such as water or sports drinks. Call 911 right away if you have high blood pressure or heart problems, or if you don’t feel better quickly after moving to the shade and drinking liquids.

What it is: Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather.

Warning signs: Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases).

What to do: Stay in a cool, dry place. Keep the rash dry. Use powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash.

What it is: Fainting caused by high temperatures.

Warning signs: Dizziness or fainting.

What to do: Lie down and put your feet up, and drink plenty of water and other cool fluids.

What it is: A sunburn is reddening of the skin that occurs after you are overexposed to the sun or other ultraviolet light.

Warning signs: Blisters and/or painful, red, and warm skin.

What to do: 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.

Sources: Health in Aging (American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Ways to Keep Cool

Wear Sunscreen

Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.

Tip: Look for sunscreens that say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels (these products work best).

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Schedule Activities Carefully

Try to limit activities when it’s coolest (such as mornings and evenings). Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.

Pace Yourself

Cut down on exercise during the heat. If you’re not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.

Rest Indoors

Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to your nearest public library—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. 

What if the power goes out and air conditioning is not available?

  • Ask your doctor about any prescription medicine you keep refrigerated. If the power goes out, most medicine will be fine to leave in a closed refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  • Keep a few bottles of water in your freezer. If the power goes out, move them to your refrigerator and keep the doors shut.
  • If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine.

You may use fans, however Keep in mind that electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90’s, they will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.

During extreme weather, community resources are available to provide shelter:

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WA Department of Health, King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA), and The Seattle Public Library.

Heatstroke Deaths of Kids In Vehicles

In 2023: 29 kids died from hot vehicle deaths.

On average, 37 kids (under the age of 15) die annually from vehicular heatstroke—in more than half of these fatalities, the kid was forgotten in a hot vehicle by a parent or caregiver.

All of these deaths could have been prevented.

Learn more about Vehicle Heating & Safety at noheatstroke.org >>

Source: National Council for Safety (NSC)

Infographic reads

Beat the Heat: Extreme Heat InfographicEnglish (PDF)



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