Preparing for Very Hot Weather
One of the best ways to prevent heat illnes is to be prepared for very hot weather. There are several things you can do to get yourself, family, home, and community ready to stay cool.
- Make a plan for staying cool. Identify an air conditioned space you can go to, like a cooling center, library, theater, or store. This is important even if you have air conditioning at home, in case your power goes out or your air conditioner breaks. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
- Know the signs of heat illness and who is most at risk. Think of family members, friends, and neighbors who might be likely to have problems in the heat, and plan to check on them regularly when it is hot out.
Keep Your Home Cool
- Install window air conditioners at the beginning of the summer – before hot weather hits. Make sure they are working properly, snugly mounted, and insulated.
- Keep windows and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home, and open on the shady side.
- Avoid using your stove and oven.
- Fans can be useful for getting hot indoor air out and bringing in cool outdoor air if placed near an open window. But be aware that a fan alone may not keep you cool enough, especially when the inside air is very hot. It’s better to take a cool bath or shower, or go to an air-conditioned space.
Know Current Weather Conditions
- To see if hot weather is coming your way, check the heat index forecast . You should take action to avoid heat illness when the heat index (a combined measure of heat and humidity that tells you how hot it feels) goes above 95 F. During hot weather, monitor the heat index on your local news or online through sites such as weather.gov where you can search for current conditions in your location. (On some sites, the heat index is listed as the “feels like” temperature.)
- Air quality can get worse when it’s hot out. Check local air quality advisories regularly.
Preparing your Community or Town
- Before a heat wave, contact your local emergency manager or town office to find out how you can help prepare your community.
- Check on elderly people living alone and others who are vulnerable to heat’s effects.
- Check out this Heat Events Guidebook for Communities from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Be Aware of Related Risks
- Protect your skin and eyes from the sun when outdoors. Use sunscreen, wear lightweight, loose clothing to protect exposed skin, wear a hat with a brim or sunglasses, and stay in the shade as much as possible. More information on protecting yourself from skin cancer .
- Cooling off at a water park, lake, or pool? Check out these tips on healthy swimming.
- Power outages due to blackouts and thunderstorms can be common in summer. Tips on how to stay safe if your power goes out .
- When getting gas for your vehicle, remember not to top off your gas tank. Topping off can spill gasoline which quickly evaporates. Gasoline vapors can harm your family's health and make air quality worse. In hot weather, buy gas in the early morning or at night. Read more .
For more information:
- This fact sheet (PDF*) from the Environmental Protection Agency describes skin cancer in Maine.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have more information on protecting yourself from skin cancer .
- Check out the Sunscreen for Your Sun Day brochure (PDF*) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- See this web site for Information about choosing the appropriate sunglasses for children
- This U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site lists steps you can take to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if your power goes out .
- More on food safety during a power outage from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- The Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Savers web page has suggestions to improve energy efficiency during hot weather. Check out their tips on cooling your home and how to conduct an energy audit .