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Heat Emergencies

Heat-related Emergencies are Preventable

Yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. Temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region and last for several weeks are defined as extreme heat. In areas with moderate temperatures like Sonoma County, even extended periods of heat above 90 degrees can pose a risk.

Periods of extreme heat push the human body beyond its limits and can result in illness or even death.

During a Heat Emergency: How to Prevent Heat Related Illness

  • DRINK - Drink plenty of cool fluids, even if you are not physically active and even if you are not thirsty. If you are physically active, drink 2-4 glasses (16-32 ounces) every hour.
  • DRESS -Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Add a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher).
  • DECREASE -Limit physical activity, stay indoors in an air-conditioned space or, when available, buildings open to the public as special, "Cooling Centers." Electric fans will not prevent heat-related illness, and may actually be harmful, when the temperature climbs into the high 90s.
  • DEFEND - If working outside in the heat, monitor coworkers and ask them to do the same for you. Check on the elderly at least twice a day. Check on infants and young children frequently. Check on those who are overweight, ill or who are on medication.
  • DEMONSTRATE - Use common sense. Avoid hot foods or drinks and heavy meals. Make sure animals and pets have plenty of fresh water and shade. Consider bringing pets inside and consider wetting down outside animals.
  • DON'T - Do NOT leave any person or pet in a parked car for any length of time for any reason.

Print Materials


Beat the Heat - Excessive Heat Safety Tips
English| Spanish (PDF: 95.5 Kb)
Source: Sonoma County Department of Health Services.

For the Community

Extreme Heat and Your Health
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Extreme Heat Prevention Guide
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heat and the Elderly
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Heat and People with Chronic Medical Conditions
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For Parents

Protect infants and children from heat-related illness and death
"Where’s baby? Look before you lock."

Summer months bring sun and fun, but can also be a dangerous time when temperatures rise. Heat-related deaths and illness are 100% preventable, yet people get sick or die every year during periods of extreme heat. When outside temperatures are in the low 80s, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes, even with a window rolled down two inches. Heatstroke occurs when the body’s core temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable since a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's body. Heatstroke deaths and injuries such as permanent brain damage, blindness and hearing loss can occur even with loving and conscientious parents.

To protect children when temperatures are high:

  • Never leave infants or children unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
  • Create a routine so the driver is reminded that a child is in the vehicle For example; place something like a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left behind.
  • Always be sure the car is locked and keys are stored out of children’s reach. Teach children that vehicles are not a play area.
  • Take action if you see a child alone in a car. Call 9-1-1 to get help from professionals.

Source: Safe Kids.

For Employers

Handout for Employees "A Heat Safety Fact Sheet"English| Spanish (pdf)
Source: California Dept. of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Poster: Stopping for Water Keeps You Going.English| Spanish (pdf)
Source: California Dept. of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Heat Illness Prevention
Source: California Department of Industrial Relations.

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Contact Information

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The Heat Index

The Heat Index

This chart from the National Weather Service shows how hot the heat-humidity combination makes it feel.


As relative humidity increases, the air seems warmer than it actually is because the body is less able to cool itself via evaporation of perspiration.


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