How to Prevent Heat Related Illness

How to Prevent Heat Related Illness

Woman drinking from water bottle

Spending time outside is nice, but too much sun can put you at risk for developing a heat related illness. Learn how to help prevent heat cramps, rashes and more—and how to treat them.

Help Stop Heat Related Illness Before It Starts

If the forecast points to excessive temperatures and sunshine:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink water even if you don't feel thirsty to help your body keep up with increased sweating.
  • Avoid sugary, caffeinated or alcoholic drinks. They can cause your body to lose more fluid than normal.
  • Stick close to air-conditioned areas, especially during the warmest part of the day. No AC at home? Head to the library, movie theater or mall to stay cool.
  • Dress for the weather. Loose-fitting and lightweight clothes are best. Stick to light colors. Darker colors trap heat.

Heat Illness Symptoms and Treatments

Learn what to look for if you or someone else might be at risk.

  • Heat Cramps
    • Recognize it: Muscle cramps in the abdomen, arms or legs during heavy exercise or strenuous activity.
    • Treat it: Stop exercising immediately. Rehydrate with water.
  • Heat Rash
    • Recognize it: An area of red pimples or small blisters caused by sweat ducts becoming blocked and swelling.
    • Treat it: Keep the area dry and head inside where it's cooler and less humid.
  • Heat Exhaustion
    • Recognize it: Heavy sweating, pale skin, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea and more.
    • Treat it: Rehydrate with cool beverages and head inside. If symptoms get worse or last longer than an hour, call 911.
  • Heat Stroke
    • Recognize it: Hot, dry skin or heavy sweating, flushed skin, high body temperature, rapid pulse, confusion and more.
    • Treat it: Call 911, and try to lower the person's body temperature by getting them to a shady area and placing ice packs or cool wet towels on their neck, armpits and groin or immersing them in cool water.