ALWAYS CALL 911 if you are in immediate danger and need emergency help.
- Prepare for hot weather before it happens - homeowners, communities, businesses
- Stay healthy during extreme heat
Prepare for extreme heat
! EPA Warning: Recharging air conditioners with the wrong refrigerant poses injury and fire risks. Do not recharge or use a propane-based refrigerant such as "22a" in any air conditioner that is not designed to use propane or flammable refrigerants.
Homeowners - check home cooling systems before you need them:
- Clean and trim around outdoor HVAC units so air can flow freely. Wash dust and dirt from cooling coils.
- Have a contractor do annual, pre-season check-ups.
- Use fans? Check that ceiling or tabletop fans are in good working order. Clean fan blades so the motor can work efficiently and move air better.
- Read more: maintenance checklist for your cooling system, from EnergyStar.
Communities - adopt development strategies to reduce heat islands and coordinate local efforts:
- Promoting or installing cool or vegetated "green" roofs
- Planting more trees and vegetation
- Switching to cooler paving materials.
- Activate telephone heat hotlines
- Alert neighborhood volunteers, family members, and friends
- Provide public air-conditioned buildings and transportation to these facilities
- Work with local "aging agencies" to educate at-risk individuals.
- Read more about response programs and examples related to heat islands.
Offices, businesses, and other work sites - inform staff how to work safely and take steps to reduce energy demands:
Heat-induced occupational illnesses, injuries, and reduced productivity can occur in a hot work environment. More information how to prepare ahead for work-related heat stress (from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
- Measure the energy use of your building(s) and set an energy savings goal.
- Inspect cooling system equipment now and perform monthly maintenance.
- Turn back, or turn off cooling equipment when not needed.
- Get the occupants involved.
- Improve lighting systems.
- Summer checklist: ways businesses and organizations can save energy this cooling season (PDF 1pg).
During extreme heat
Check air quality where you live - hot weather can worsen ozone levels and other types of air quality.
CALL 911 in case of heat-related illness - heat stress, heat exhaustion or HEAT STROKE can result in death.
ALERT: Generator exhaust is toxic. If you lose power, ALWAYS put generators outside well away from doors, windows, and vents. Never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas. Carbon monoxide (CO) is deadly, can build up quickly, and linger for hours. More information.
PREVENTION IS THE BEST DEFENSE! Stay out of direct sun and wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Be extra careful about sensitive individuals like children, the elderly, or the sick. Never ever leave anyone or an animal alone in a car, or a pool or other risky location, not even for "just a few minutes."
Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening. Spend time in cool places like a shopping mall, a library, or a theater.
Remember pets! Make sure all animals have plenty of fresh water and are able to move out of direct sunlight.
- Save energy - reduce your home power use to help reduce brownouts or blackouts and smog/air pollution. Turn off nonessential lights, televisions, games, and computers, and unplug chargers.
- Overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation can result in a painful sunburn. It can also lead to more serious health problems, including skin cancer, premature aging of the skin, and other heatlh problems. Children are particularly at risk.
- Learn more about Sun safety action steps.
- Roll the windows down at lower speeds; use the AC at highway speeds. Overcoming the air drag from open car windows at highways speed uses more fuel than the air conditioner.
- Drive with the windows open for a short time before using the AC, to let out the hot air before you run the AC.
- Park in the shade or use a sunshade or pop-up window screens.
- More about fuel economy in hot weather.
Don't top off! When you fill up remember not to top off your gas tank. Topping off can spill gasoline which quickly evaporates into the air around you. Gasoline vapors can harm your family's health and make ozone pollution and smog worse. And in hot weather, buy gas when it's cooler in the early morning or after sundown.
Extreme heat can make drought worse. More about drought.