Protecting Yourself When It's Hot Outside
Protect yourself, your children, the elderly, and your pets when the temperatures soar in Los Angeles
Heat Related Terms
Risk Factors for Heat Illness
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Treatment for Heat Exhaustion
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Treatment for Heat Stroke
General Heat Wave Information Tips
Caring for Heat Related Illness
Heat Wave Tips for the Home
Protect Your Pet From Summer Heat
Current Los Angeles Area Weather Conditions & Forecast
Exposure to extreme heat can make people seriously ill. Unchecked heat-related illnesses may become a serious problem in a short period of time and can cause death. Though anyone can become a victim to excessive heat, the elderly are among those people most at risk. In recent years, several hundred persons have died in cities across the country as a result of excessive heat during heat waves. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstrokes are conditions caused by overexposure to heat. Furthermore, during heavy exercise, a person’s body can generate 10 to 20 times the amount of heat than it does at rest.
Los Angeles has experienced some of the hottest weather in the nation. Los Angeles Police Officers and the citizens of Los Angeles should be aware of risk factors for heat related illnesses in addition to the symptoms of people who might be experiencing a heat related illness.
Los Angeles Police Officers and the citizens of Los Angeles should also be particularly aware of individuals who are at high risk for excessive heat exposure, and make special efforts to insure these individuals are properly cared for. Everyone in Los Angeles is encouraged to check on people they know or come in contact with who are at risk for excessive heat exposure. Everyone should also be prepared to advise at risk individuals of preventive measures for heat exposure and offer assistance when needed. The following information will assist in that endeavor.
- Heat Wave: More than 48 hours of heat measuring at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity (80% relative humidity) expected.
- Heat Index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit that tells how hot it really feels with the heat and humidity. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat Cramps: Usually the first symptom of overexposure. The symptoms are painful muscle spasms. Care for heat cramps with rest and fluid intake. Do not take salt tablets. Activity can resume when the cramps subside, but fluid intake should continue.
- Heat Exhaustion: Less dangerous than heat stroke, heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy perspiring. Fluid loss causes blood flow to decrease in the vital organs, resulting in a form of shock. With heat exhaustion, perspiration does not evaporate as it should because of high humidity or too many layers of clothing. As a result, the body is not cooled properly. Body temperature will be near normal.
- Heat Stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces perspiration to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.
Signals include the following: hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid/weak pulse and rapid/shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high, sometimes as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
IMPORTANT: Since heat index values were devised for shady, light wind conditions, exposure to full sunshine can increase heat index values by up to 15°F. Also, strong winds, particularly with very hot, dry air, can be extremely hazardous.
The Heat Index Chart shaded zone above 105°F (orange or red) shows a level that may cause increasingly severe heat disorders with continued exposure or physical activity.
- Level of physical activity
- General health
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Skin disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Alcohol consumption
- Use of water pills
- Use of allergy pills
- Drug use
- Clothing worn
- Lack of air conditioning
- Poor ventilation in home
- Dizziness or lightheadedness (usually conscious but may faint)
- Actively sweating
- Skin cool and pale
- Core temperature over 102 degrees
- Shady place or air conditioned room
- Keep cool
- Increase fluids
- Cold wet towels
- May require intravenous fluids
- Immediate action is necessary
- Flushed skin
- Dry skin
- Warm skin
- Rapid pulse
- Incoherent speech
- Disoriented and confused
- Possibly unconscious
- Temperature over 105 degrees
- Shady place or air conditioned room
- Remove most of clothes
- Apply cool, wet towels
- Fan to increase air flow
- Call 911 or transport to an emergency room
- Dress for the heat: Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or use an umbrella. Also, it takes 4 to 7 days to get used to unusual heat. If you know you’ll be exposed to hot temperatures, spend more time each day in the heat for about a week before beginning you task.
- Drink water: Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Keep your drinking water cool by keeping it in the refrigerator. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
- Eat small meals and eat more often: Avoid foods high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.
- Salt tablets: Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Slow down: Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. Stay indoors when possible.
- Shower: Take a shower twice a day, once in the morning and once during the heat of the day.
Exposure to extreme heat or cold may make a person seriously ill. The likelihood of illness also depends on factors such as physical activity, clothing, wind, humidity, working and living conditions, and a person’s age and state of health. The following tips are important to remember when caring for heat-related illness:
- Get the victim out of the heat;
- Watch for signs of breathing problems;
- Loosen tight clothing;
- Remove perspiration soaked clothing;
- Apply cool wet cloths to the skin;
- Fan the victim;
- If victim is conscious, give cool water to drink. Do not let the conscious victim drink too quickly. Give about one glass (four ounces) of water every 15 minutes;
- If the victim vomits, stop giving fluids and position the victim on their side;
- Let the victim rest in a comfortable position, and watch carefully for changes in their condition. The victim should not resume normal activities that day;
- Call for an ambulance if victim refuses water, vomits, or starts to lose consciousness. This means the victim’s condition is worsening; and
- Do not apply rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol to the victim’s body in an attempt to cool them off.
- Keep air conditioners in good repair;
- Keep draperies drawn and windows closed. This will prevent cool air from escaping and warm air from seeping through glass areas;
- Seal off unused rooms;
- Turn thermostats off and leave vents closed in unoccupied rooms to save energy;
- During summer afternoons, try to limit the use of heat producing appliances in the kitchen and laundry areas;
- Turn off unnecessary lights;
- Clean or replace air conditioner filters at least twice each summer;
- Night flushing or ventilating at night to clear the heat from your home cools the structure so it begins the next day at a lower temperature;
- In the morning, close all the windows to keep the heat out as long as possible;
- Room and ceiling fans help circulate air within a room, blow air over your body and draw heat away;
- When used with an air conditioner, the thermostat may be set higher, which reduces the energy used by the air conditioner;
- Encourage airflow through your home by opening windows on opposite walls (one allows cooler air in, the other allows warmer air out). Place a fan in the window to boost the flow of air through your home; and
- Weather-strip and seal around all doors and windows to keep the heat out and the cool air in.
How Fast Can the Sun Heat a Car?
The sun's shortwave radiation (yellow in figure below) heats objects that it strikes. For example, a dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to over 200°F. These objects (e.g., dashboard, steering wheel, child seat) heat the adjacent air by conduction and convection and also give off longwave radiation (red in figure below) which is very efficient at warming the air trapped inside a vehicle.
Shown below are time lapse photos of thermometer readings in a car over a period of less than an hour. As the animation shows, in just over 2 minutes the car went from a safe temperature to an unsafe temperature of 94.3°F. This demonstration shows just how quickly a vehicle can become a death trap for a child.
The information contained in this circular was obtained from the Los Angeles Fire Department, the American Red Cross, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Department of Aging, and the Department of Water and Power. The Department of Aging is distributing free copies of an emergency guide for individuals who want more information regarding heat wave emergencies. The Department of Aging has also established a toll free heat wave hotline. The telephone number is 800-339-6993.
The information in this circular is for helping individuals recognize incidents of overexposure to heat. However, if there is any doubt regarding person's health or well being, immediate medical attention should be sought. If an emergency exists, immediately call 9-1-1 for assistance.