Extreme Heat

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Heat Related Illness
Considerations for High-Risk Populations

Extreme heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths annually in the United States. Heat related deaths and illness are preventable. By preparing for periods of extreme heat, taking necessary precautions during periods of extreme heat, and recognizing signs of heat related illness, we can all take action to protect ourselves and others. 

Stay up to date on forecast weather trends in your area. Visit National Weather Service Forecast Office Pendleton, OR for weather, water and climate data, forecasts and warnings. 

The CDC, in Partnership with the National Weather Service, has launched a new Heat and Health Initiative to protect people from heat exposure. Visit HeatRisk | Tracking | NCEH | CDC to get your local HeatRisk for this week and suggested actions you can take to keep yourself safe. 

In the event of extreme heat, residents should:
  • Sign up for local emergency alerts.
  • Recognize the signs of heat related illnesses. 
  • Prepare your home. If you have air conditioning, ensure it is working properly. Ensure the home is properly insulated to ensure cold air does not escape from doors and windows. Block sunlight from your windows with shades, drapes and reflectors. 
  • If you do not have air conditioning, or in the event of a power outage, plan locations where you can escape the heat. This can include libraries, shopping locations, cooling centers, or local recreation areas like parks and pools. This can also include gathering emergency supplies like water, medication, medical information, and appropriate clothing. 

    Extreme Heat Planning Checklist Examples:
    Extreme Heat Preparedness Checklist | American Red Cross
    Emergency Supply List | Ready.gov

Heat Related IllnessHeat_Related_Illness

Heat related illnesses are caused by exposure to abnormal or prolonged amounts of sun, heat and humidity without preventative actions or adequate fluid intake. Learn about the types of heat related illness, common symptoms, and what to do if you or someone else is experiencing symptoms. 

The CDC has compiled a list of heat related illnesses, common symptoms associated with the illness, and what to do if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms. Printable Version Available Here

Please note, symptoms can occur in any order, and you do not need to have all symptoms in a category to have a heat related illness. Symptoms of Heat-Related Illnesses | Extreme Heat | CDC

Heat Stroke is a severe medical emergency that occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or even death if the individual does not receive emergency treatment. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 or seek medical attention immediately. 

Recommendations During Extreme Heat

  • Increase Hydration
    • Regardless of your activity level, increase your fluid intake during hot weather. 
    • Do not wait until you are thirsty. 
    • Avoid fluids that contain alcohol, caffeine, or large amounts of sugar. 
    • Because heavy sweating depletes electrolytes from the body, replace electrolytes with low sugar sports drinks. If you are on a low salt diet, are diabetic, have high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions, take to your doctor beforehand. 
    • Avoid very cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramps. 
  • Wear Appropriate Clothing and Sunscreen
    • Choose light weight, loose-fitting clothing. Light-colored clothing reflects heat. 
    • When possible, avoid sunlight exposure when sun rays are most intense, generally between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Sunburns affect the body's ability to cool down. 
    • Use broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreens with SPF values of 15 of higher. Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied at least every two hours, or as directed on sunscreen label. 
    • Wear wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. 
  • Keep Your Home Cool
    • Block sunlight from your windows with shades, drapes and reflectors. 
    • Turn off or reduce light and electronic use 
    • Take cold showers or baths to lower your body temperature. 
    • Limit cooking with ovens and stoves. Cooking with heat increases the temperature inside the home. 
    • Do not use a fan when indoor air temperatures are above 90°F. Because traditional fans do not cool the air, it does not lower your overall body temperature and can make it difficult for the body to lose heat by sweating. 
  • Limit Your Time Outdoors.
    Try to stay indoors, in cool spaces as much as possible during extremely hot weather. If your home does not have air conditioning, or in the event of a power outage, consider going to an air-conditioned location like a cooling center or public location. Location suggestions in Walla Walla County. Even brief periods of time spent in cool spaces can help lower your body temperature. If you must spend time outdoors:
    • Avoid strenuous activity.
    • Increase fluid intake.
    • Take frequent breaks in shaded areas.
    • Schedule outdoor events carefully. 
  • Take Care of Your Community
    Some people are at a higher risk for heat related illness. This can include those older than 65 years of age, infants and young children, individuals who are pregnant, people with chronic conditions, people taking certain medications, people without air conditioning, and pets. Learn more about additional precautions for those who are at higher risk below. 

People at Increased Risk
Adults (Ages 65+)
Adults ages 65+ are at higher risk of heat related illness because as we age, our bodies have less ability to regulate body temperature, adjust to sudden changes in temperature, and maintain hydration. Older adults are also more likely to have chronic medical conditions and take prescription medications that can affect the ability to regulate temperature. 

Heat and Older Adults (Aged 65+) | Extreme Heat | CDC
Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults | National Institute on Aging | NIH
Older Adults Emergency Preparedness | American Red Cross
Infants and Children
Because children's bodies are still growing, they are particularly vulnerable to environmental health risks like heat. Infants and young children also rely on others to help keep them cool and hydrated. 

Heat and Infants and Children | Extreme Heat | CDC
Protecting Children from Extreme Heat | US EPA
Child Heatstroke Prevention: Prevent Hot Car Deaths | NHTSA
People with certain medical conditions
Extreme heat can exacerbate certain conditions like cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, obesity, and mental health, as well as influence how the body regulates temperature. While it is recommended to talk to your primary care provider about necessary precautions to take in extreme heat, caregivers and family members of people with certain medical conditions should take additional precautions to ensure their safety. 

Heat and Chronic Conditions | CDC
Who is at risk to extreme heat | HEAT.gov
People taking certain medications
Sun and Your Medicine | CDC
Learn how certain medications can cause photosensitivity, making them more sensitive to sunlight, how to reduce your reaction risk, and sun safety tips. 

For Providers: 
Head and Medications- Guidance for Clinicians| CDC
Guidance intended to alert clinicians and patients to the impact that heat may have on patients taking certain medications. Explains how medications and heat interact, what clinicians can do and commonly prescribed medications that increase risk from heat, 
People without air conditioning
Outdoor Workers

Working Outdoors in Warm Climates | OSHA

Heat Illness Prevention Training Guide | OSHA

Heat Safety Tool
Developed by the US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, created the Heat Safety Tool App. This app allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, learn about precautionary recommendations, and check hourly forecast of heat values, risk levels and recommendations. 
Available in English and Spanish for iPhone and Android.
Additional Resources
Sun Safety
Sun Safety | US EPA
Sun Safety Facts | CDC
The Sun and Your Medicine | FDA

The UV Index App allows users to predict UV radiation levels and provide suggested protection guidance. Available for iPhone and Android

uv app

uv categories
Water Safety
Extreme Heat and Your Health | CDC
Extreme Heat | Ready.gov
Heat Safety Tips and Resources | National Weather Service 
Extreme Heat Safety | American Red Cross
Who is Most at Risk to Extreme Heat | Heat.gov
Heat and Health | World Health Organization 
Climate Change | National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences