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Sweltering Heat Hovers Over the Country

Millions of people are suffering during the current heat wave scorching residents in 32 states and the American Red Cross is responding across the country. The extremely hot conditions can be very dangerous and the Red Cross encourages people to take steps to safely endure the soaring temperatures.

High temperatures combined with climbing humidity are joining to bring sizzling conditions, making it feel like it is 115 degrees or higher in many areas. Many Red Cross chapters are supporting cooling centers operated by local governments, and in some cases have opened chapter offices for people to visit to escape the heat.

People needing help during the blistering heat should contact their local Red Cross chapter or government offices.

The hot and dry conditions are contributing to an increase to building fires and wildfires in some areas and Red Cross workers responding to an unusually high number of requests to support first responders. The Red Cross is supplying them with drinks, ice packs, and other cooling methods.

In some locations, Red Cross chapters are supplying government-run cooling centers with items such as cold drinks and cots for people to rest. Others are checking on elderly people in their area and supplying them with cold drinks.

Utility companies are predicting power outages due to an all-time high demand for electricity. If the power goes out in someone’s neighborhood, there are steps people should take on the Red Cross web site.

The excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. To help avoid problems, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water or a sports drink with electrolytes every 15 minutes.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool liquid to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Heat stroke is life-threatening. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or you can cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

Follow these additional steps to stay safe during the heat:

  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Ensure they have water and a shady place to rest.

Learn more on how to prevent and respond to heat emergencies by taking first aid and CPR training. Contact your local Red Cross local Red Cross or visit to schedule a class.

For more information on what to do during this heat wave, visit the Red Cross web site.