Plan for Extreme Heat

Develop a Family Disaster Plan
Please see the Family Disaster Plan section for general family planning information. Revisit your family disaster plan before summer heat is expected. Extreme heat- specific planning should include the following:
  • Learn what heat hazards may occur where you are and learn how to plan for extreme heat should it occur in your area. Different areas have different risks associated with prolonged heat. Contact your local emergency management office, National Weather Service office, or American Red Cross chapter for information.
If you are at risk from extreme heat:
  • If your home does not have air conditioning, choose other places you go to get relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day. Schools, libraries, theaters and other community facilities often provide air-conditioned refuge on the hottest days. Air conditioning provides the safest escape from extreme heat. During the 1995 Midwest heat wave, most deaths happened to people not in air conditioned locations.
  • Plan changes in your daily activities to avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Ill effects of heat can quickly overcome the healthiest people, if they perform strenuous work during the warmest parts of the day. Symptoms of dehydration are not easily recognized and are often confused with other causes. Dehydration occurs fast and makes you ill very quickly.
  • Some family members may be taking medications or have medical conditions that may cause poor blood circulation or reduced ability to tolerate heat. Discuss these concerns with a physician. A physician can advise you about changes to medication or other activities you can do to temporarily relieve the effects of heat.
  • Plan to check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning or who spend much of their time alone. Elderly persons who live alone or with a working relative might need assistance on hot days. The majority of deaths during the 1995 Midwest heat wave were persons who were alone.
  • Plan to wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away the sun's rays more than dark colors, which absorb the sun's rays.
  • Get training. Take an American Red Cross first aid course to learn how to treat heat emergencies and other emergencies. Everyone should know how to respond, because the effects of heat can happen very quickly.
  • Discuss extreme heat wave with your family. Everyone should know what to do in the places where they spend time. Some places may not be air conditioned or safe during a heat wave, so plan alternatives. Discussing extreme heat ahead of time will help reduce fear and anxiety, and lets everyone know how to respond.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit!
Please see the section Disaster Supplies Kit for general supplies kit information. Extreme heat-specific supplies should include the following:
  • Additional water
  • Disaster supplies kit basics