Even here in Maine, there are times when it gets very hot. Most people are uncomfortable in very high heat and some people get sick from heat. Some people who have chronic diseases or who are sick already may feel much worse or have serious problems in extreme heat.
Heat-related illnesses happen when your body cannot cool itself. Some heat illnesses are mild, like heat rash, sun burn, and heat cramps. Others like heat exhaustion, dehydration, and heat stroke can be severe or even life-threatening. Read more about heat illnesses.
Use the information below to keep cool and healthy this summer.
- Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. National Weather Service data show that heat causes more deaths each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined.
- Spending time in an air conditioned space is the best way to prevent heat illnesses.
- When it is very hot, check on neighbors, family and friends, especially if they live alone and are elderly, have chronic health issues, or have any conditions that make it hard to care for themselves.
- Heat combined with humidity is especially dangerous. Be sure to look at both temperature and humidity when checking the weather forecast. These are often combined into what is called the heat index. When the heat index is above 95 degrees, people are more likely to get heat illnesses. Follow the steps below to stay healthy.
1. Keep Cool
- Use air conditioning in your home to cool down or go to an air-conditioned building such as a store, public library, restaurant, or cooling center.
- Keep windows and shades closed during the day, especially on the sunny side of your home. Open them back up at night to let cooler air circulate into your home.
- An electric fan can help cool you down, but are not as good for cooling off once temperatures get into the mid-90s or higher.
- Take a cool shower or bath.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Stay out of the sun as much as possible.
- Wear sunscreen and a ventilated hat (a hat made out of straw or mesh) when outside, even if it is cloudy.
- Never leave anyone, especially children, pets, or those with special needs in a parked car, even briefly. Temperatures in the car can become dangerous within a few minutes.
2. Drink Fluids
- Drink more fluids even if you are not very active.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks, since these drinks can dry your body out.
- If you are on fluid restrictions or on diuretics, ask your doctor how much fluid you should drink.
3. Lie Low
- Take regular breaks from any physical activity – at least every hour.
- Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
If you must be out in the heat follow the tips below.
- Try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours unless there is an air quality advisory in your area that recommends limiting activity during these times.
- Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
- Rest often in shady areas – at least every hour.
- Protect yourself from the sun and heat by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Put on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. The most effective products say “broad spectrum” or "UVA/UVB protection" on the label.
There are no warnings for very hot weather at this time.
For up-to-date forecast information, visit the National Weather Service.
Follow the advice on these web pages to protect yourself, your family and your neighbors from heat-related illnesses.