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Avoid the Heat with these Cool Tips


Kids playing outside during summerThe Mecklenburg County Public Health Department wants to make sure that all residents are safe from the potentially harmful effects of the sun and hot temperatures. When temperatures are high don't forget these tips for managing your exposure to the heat.
Although the elderly and very young children are at greatest risk of suffering a heat related illness, ANYONE can be affected. Spending too much time in the sun or staying too long in an overheated environment can cause harm. Even short periods of exposure to high temperatures can lead to serious health problems.

If you or anyone in your family feels they are becoming ill from exposure to the high heat, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY!

For general information including questions about Charlotte and Mecklenburg County services related to the heat or any topic, call 311, the 24-hour City/County information line

Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness

Anyone can suffer from heat related illness. It happens when your body is unable to compensate and properly cool itself. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough. When this occurs, the temperature of the body rises rapidly and heat-related illness may develop.

  • Check on the elderly and do it frequently. Ensure that those 65 years of age and older are cool and safe from exposure to high temperatures. They are less likely to sense and respond to temperature changes and those on certain medications or with chronic illnesses are most vulnerable.
  • If you cannot be in an air conditioned environment, keep air circulating with fans and adjust blinds and window shades to reduce heat from the sun. Shut off all non-essential lights and appliances. Electric fans can provide some comfort, but with temperatures in the mid-90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a better way to cool off.
  • Never leave a child or pet unattended in a car during hot weather, even with the windows open. Temperatures can reach lethal levels within minutes.
  • Drink plenty of water (at least 8-10 glasses a day, more if you are working or exercising in a hot environment) to maintain good hydration. Carry water or juice with you and drink often, even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Do NOT drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar. These can actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
  • When entering a vehicle, protect children from hot parts such as seat belts and metal clips.
  • Carry a towel to place under children from protection from burns.
    Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing. If you must be outdoors, be sure to apply sunscreen. In addition to very real concerns about skin cancer, sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluid.  
  • Make sure to keep your activity to a minimum during the hottest part of the day.

Escape the Heat

Staying comfortable should be a priority during this weather. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. If you need a place to escape the elements, there are several options to cool down.

  • Go read a book or a magazine. Branch libraries are located across the county and offer a cool, air-conditioned environment.
  • Head to the mall. Major malls are open in many areas of the city and county and most are open until at least 9 p.m.
  • Visit a local recreation center. Many Mecklenburg County parks have recreation centers where residents can go to take a break from the heat.
  • Go to any public location that is air conditioned, even if you can only be there long enough to cool your body temperature.

If You Must be  in the Heat

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour.  A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Remember the warning in the first "tip" (above), too.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels).

Heat Related Illness- Know the Terms

  • Heat cramps are muscle cramps that usually begin in the legs and abdomen, often following strenuous exercise.
  • Heat exhaustion is more serious. It can develop after prolonged exposure to high temperatures and inadequate fluid replacement. The warning signs include elevated body temperature; heavy sweating; excessive thirst; dizziness and nausea; vomiting and diarrhea; even fainting.
  • Heat stroke is the most serious heat related illness. Symptoms include high body temperature (106 degrees F or higher), red, hot and dry skin with no sweating, rapid pulse, confusion, unconsciousness, and even death.

For more information on keeping your family safe from exposure to heat and sun, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

close alertCounty services are operating at a limited capacity. Questions about COVID-19? Call Public Health Hotline: 980-314-9400