Always call 911 if you are in immediate danger and need emergency help.
Individuals, communities, and businesses can plan for and reduce the effects of extreme heat. Keep yourself and your family cool when the thermometer tops out. Check weather alerts and warnings from the National Weather Service.
Prepare for extreme heat
! EPA Warning: Recharging air conditioners with wrong refrigerant poses injury and fire risks. Do not recharge or use a propane-based refrigerant such as "22a" in an air conditioner that is not designed to use propane or flammable refrigerants.
Read more about the danger and what you can do.
General information about unacceptable substitute refrigerants
Communities - adopt development strategies to reduce heat islands and coordinate local efforts:
Urban and suburban areas can be "heat islands," a zone 2-10 degrees F warmer than the surrounding rural countryside. Because they are warmer, heat islands use more energy to keep cool, which raises costs and reduces air quality. Communities can invest in long-term strategies such as:
- Promoting or installing cool or vegetated "green" roofs
- Planting more trees and vegetation
- Switching to cooler paving materials.
Cities are increasingly starting heat wave response programs that coordinate efforts among local agencies and alert residents. Common examples of "best practices" include:
- 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)
Building owners can follow five steps to save energy in summer:
- 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.
- More sun safety action steps. Sunwise Kids.
Driving? Don't top off...
When you fill up 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 ozone pollution and smog worse. In hot weather, buy gas in the early morning or at night. Read more on the dangers of topping off your gas tank. No Sobrellene su Tanque de Gasolina (español).
Extreme heat can make drought worse. More about drought.