Keep Cool and Safe During Extreme Heat

With temperatures beginning to warm up around the state, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) urges everyone to stay resilient against the dangers of extreme heat. Defined as a prolonged period (2 – 3 days) of high heat and humidity with temperatures soaring above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, extreme heat poses significant risks to health and well-being.

In extreme heat your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to death. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards. Vulnerable populations such as older adults, infants, children, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions face the highest risks during such events.

To ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones, it’s important to prepare for extreme heat and take proactive measures to stay safe:

Prepare for Extreme Heat

  • Avoid relying solely on fans for cooling as they do not reduce body temperature effectively.
  • Identify cool places in your community like libraries or shopping malls or seek out designated cooling centers.
  • Cover windows with drapes or shades and weather-strip doors and windows to keep heat out.
  • Use window reflectors, insulation, and powered attic ventilators to regulate indoor temperatures.
  • Install window air conditioners and insulate the area around them for efficient cooling.
  • If you are unable to afford your cooling costs, weatherization, or energy-related home repairs, contact programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for assistance.

Be Safe During Extreme Heat

  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car on warm days, as temperatures inside can skyrocket quickly.
    • It is never safe to leave a person or pet locked in the car (even in colder conditions).
    • Rolling down the windows or parking in a shaded area does little to change the interior temperature of the vehicle.
    • Make it a habit to check your entire vehicle, especially the back seat, before locking the doors and walking away.
    • Place a personal item like a purse or briefcase in the back seat, as another reminder to look before you lock. Write a note or place a stuffed animal in the passenger’s seat to remind you that a child is in the back seat. 
  • Utilize cooling centers if air conditioning is unavailable at home.
    • Contact local 2-1-1 for assistance and referrals to cooling centers.
    • Check with local news sources on openings of select cooling centers.
  • Take cool showers or baths and wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Reduce oven usage to minimize indoor heat generation.
  • Seek shade when outdoors and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities during peak heat hours and check on vulnerable individuals like family members and neighbors.
  • Be mindful of pet safety, ensuring they have access to shade and cool water.
  • Consider pet safety. If they are outside, make sure they have plenty of cool water and access to comfortable shade. Asphalt and dark pavement can be very hot to your pet’s feet.

Recognize and Respond to Heat-Related Illnesses:

To keep you and those around you safe during an extreme heat event, it is crucial to be aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses and appropriate action.  

Heat Stroke

  • Signs include extremely high body temperature, hot and dry skin, rapid pulse, and altered mental state.
  • If heat stroke is suspected, call 9-1-1 immediately and initiate cooling measures until help arrives.

Heat Cramps:

  • Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs may indicate heat cramps.

Heat Exhaustion:

  • Symptoms include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and fainting.
  • Move to a cooler location, remove excess clothing, and hydrate with water or sports drinks. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

In the event of a medical emergency, contact your healthcare provider or call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Get more information about heat-related illnesses from the CDC and National Weather Service.

By staying informed, prepared, and vigilant, we can all beat the heat and ensure a safer summer for everyone in Idaho. Stay cool and stay safe!

For more information on Extreme Heat, visit: