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Program: How to Keep Cool Tips

Agency: Heat Resources - Metro 2020

Resource Number: 36904629
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids - warm or cool - to prevent dehydration; avoid caffeine. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or if you take water pills, ask how much you should drink in hot weather.

- Cancel outdoor activities if possible; wear a hat or use an umbrella and sunscreen if you must be outdoors.

- Wear loose, lightweight, light color clothing.

- Use air conditioning if you have it. Just two hours a day can help prevent heat-related illness.

- If you do not have air conditioning, try to spend at least two hours in an air-conditioned shopping mall, restaurant, library, theater or other building. Close shades, blinds and curtains in your home during the day, but keep windows open slightly for air circulation. Open windows and window coverings at night.

- Use fans to blow trapped hot air out windows; do not allow fans to blow on you or others in extreme high temperatures and humidity - approximately 90 degrees with humidity greater than 35 percent - because this increases heat stress.

- Avoid using the stove and oven.

- Eat small meals more often. Fruits, vegetables and salads are best.

- Shower or bathe in water that is near skin temperature.

- Keep lights low or off.

- Postpone vacuuming or running other electric appliances that generate heat.

- If taking regular medication, consult with your physician. Some medications cause adverse reactions in hot weather.

- Do not use salt tablets unless directed to do so by a doctor.

- Provide extra water and a cool area for pets.


- If during a heat wave you have any of the following heat-related symptoms, call 911 immediately: Confusion, disorientation, dizziness, very slow breathing, vomiting, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, hot and dry skin (you are not sweating).


- Age: The very young (under 4) and the elderly (over 65) are more vulnerable.

- Obesity: People who are overweight have greater difficulty regulating body temperature.

- Medical Conditions: Conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease or renal diseases may increase a person's susceptibility to heat-related illness. Medications for these conditions may cause dehydration.

- Alcohol Consumption

- Medications: Use of medications that affect the body's ability to perspire. Call the pharmacist or prescribing practitioner with any questions.

- Excessive Exposure: People who are outdoors for long periods can be overcome easily with heat and humidity.

- Parked Cars: Leaving people and pets in parked cars.

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, extreme heat causes more weather–related deaths in the U.S. than all other forms of severe weather combined.

"In a heat wave, the majority of victims are older individuals and people with pre–existing and chronic medical conditions," Mandernach said. "We strongly urge people to visit vulnerable family and friends — often — to make sure they take proper steps to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat–related illnesses."

Others at greater risk from extreme temperatures include pregnant women, children, people who are taking certain regular medications, individuals who work in a high–heat environment, people engaged in strenuous physical activity and people who are mentally ill, Mandernach said.

However, even young, healthy individuals are susceptible, she said. Two major types of heat–related illness exist. Heat exhaustion is non–life–threatening; heat stroke is potentially fatal.

Early warning signs of heat exhaustion include decreased energy, slight loss of appetite, faintness, light–headedness and nausea, Mandernach said. People with these symptoms should seek a cool place, drink fluids, remove excess clothing and rest. Heat stress needs attention, but it is not a medical emergency.

Serious signs that indicate a medical emergency and require immediate medical attention include unconsciousness, rapid heartbeat, throbbing headache, dry skin, chest pain, mental confusion, irritability, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, staggering and difficulty breathing, she said. In an emergency, dial 911, move the heat–stressed person to a cool area and remove his or her excess clothing, spray the individual with water and fan him or her until help arrives.

"If the weather service issues a heat warning, people need to make an even greater effort to keep cool, drink more liquids and limit activity," Mandernach said.

More information:

Department of Health
Health Alert Network
When the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory or warning, MDH uses the Health Alert Network to send alerts to state and local agencies. These alerts prepare local agencies to deal with heat-related emergencies. The alerts also trigger any local heat plans, which are the responsibility of local emergency managers. MDH is prepared to provide information about heat related illnesses and steps people can take to prevent them. United Way 2-1-1 is also prepared to provide heat-related information.

More Health Information:

- Visit the MDH Web site at www.health.state.mn.us. Click on “Heat–related illness” under “Hot Topics.”

Department of Commerce

Peak Power
High temperatures and humidity increase the demand for electricity as homes and businesses use more air conditioning. In the unlikely event that the electric transmission or distribution system becomes overloaded, some customers might experience interruptions in service. While this is not currently a problem, the Department of Commerce has contacted Minnesota electric utilities regarding their “peak alert” programs to notify customers to take action if and when demand becomes too much for the system. Important voluntary actions include keeping the thermostat set at 78 or higher and delaying the use of electrical appliances until after 7 p.m.


- Close shades during the day to reduce solar heat gains.

- Use cross ventilation. Put a fan blowing in a window on the cool side of the house to push out hot air while pulling cool air into the rest of the house.

- Set the thermostat at 78° or higher—a reasonably comfortable and energy efficient indoor temperature. A 78° setting will save about 15 percent or more on cooling costs over a 72° setting.

- Clean or replace air conditioning filters at least once a month.

- Turn off the air conditioner when you are going to be gone for several hours and draw the shades to keep heat out. It takes less energy to re-cool the house when you return than it does to keep it cool while you are gone.

- Go easy on hot water — it produces both heat and humidity.

- Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans when cooking or bathing to remove unwanted moisture quickly.

- Reduce the use of artificial lighting because lights produce heat

- Avoid using the dry cycle on your automatic dishwasher; allow dishes to air-dry instead.

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Person at the resource who last verified this information:
Last Verified On: 7/21/2017

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