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Heat safety tips

information provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (June 30, 2018) – Hot weather with high humidity is predicted for the next several days, and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., is reminding people about the importance of staying cool in order to avoid heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“It’s important for people to recognize the signs of heat-related illness and take action to prevent becoming sick,” said Director Shah. “Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. However, if temperatures and humidity are extremely high, sweating is not effective in maintaining the body’s normal temperature. If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, a person may suffer a heat-related illness, which can become serious or even deadly.”

General recommendations include the following:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day. Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, go to a public place such as a shopping mall or a library to stay cool. Cooling stations and senior centers are also available in many large cities for people of all ages. (To find cooling centers in State facilities go to
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Drink water often. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  • Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or in a building without air-conditioning.
  • Never leave anyone, including pets, alone in a closed, parked vehicle. The air temperature inside a car rises rapidly during hot weather and can lead to brain damage or death.

Recommendations regarding specific heat-related illnesses are described below.

Heat stroke

What to look for:

  • Body temperature 103º or higher
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Nausea
  • Feeling confused
  • Passing out

What to do:

  • Call 9-1-1 right away. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.
  • Move the person to a cooler place
  • Lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath
  • Do NOT give the person anything to drink

Heat exhaustion

What to look for:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling tired or week
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Headache
  • Passing out

What to do:

  • Move to a cool place
  • Loosen clothing
  • Use cool, wet cloths, or take a cool bath
  • Sip water

Get medical help right away if:

  • You are throwing up
  • Your symptoms get worse
  • Your symptoms last longer than an hour

Heat cramps

What to look for:

  • Heavy sweating during intense exercise
  • Muscle pain or spasms

What to do:

  • Stop physical activity and move to a cool place
  • Drink water or a sports drink
  • Wait for cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity

Get medical help right away if:

  • Your cramps last longer than an hour
  • You’re on a low-sodium diet
  • You have heart problems

Heat rash

What to look for:

  • Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases)

What to do:

  • Stay in a cool, dry place
  • Keep the rash dry
  • Use powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash


What to look for:

  • Painful, red, and warm skin
  • Blisters on the skin

What to do:

  • Stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals
  • Put cool cloths on sunburned areas or take a cool bath
  • Put moisturizing lotion on sunburned areas
  • Do NOT break blisters


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.