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Heat Island Effect

Excessive Heat Events Guidebook in Brief

Quick Tips for Responding to Excessive Heat Events
For the Public


  • Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries
  • Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air
  • Take a cool bath or shower
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun
  • Stay hydrated – regularly drink water or other nonalcoholic fluids
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads
  • Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes
  • Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat
  • Know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.


  • Direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°f
  • Leave children and pets alone in cars for any amount of time
  • Drink alcohol to try to stay cool
  • Eat heavy, hot, or hard-to-digest foods
  • Wear heavy, dark clothing.

Useful Community Interventions
For Public Officials

Send a clear public message

  • Communicate that EHEs are dangerous and conditions can be life-threatening. In the event of conflicting environmental safety recommendations, emphasize that health protection should be the first priority.

Inform the public of anticipated EHE conditions

  • When will EHE conditions be dangerous?
  • How long will EHE conditions last?
  • How hot will it FEEL at specific times during the day (e.g., 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m.)?

Assist those at greatest risk

  • Assess locations with vulnerable populations, such as nursing homes and public housing
  • Staff additional emergency medical personnel to address the anticipated increase in demand
  • Shift/expand homeless intervention services to cover daytime hours
  • Open cooling centers to offer relief for people without air conditioning and urge the public to use them.

Provide access to additional sources of information

  • Provide toll-free numbers and Web site addresses for heat exposure symptoms and responses
  • Open hotlines to report concerns about individuals who may be at risk
  • Coordinate broadcasts of EHE response information in newspapers and on television and radio.


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