Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-373-2391

Extreme Heat Poses Significant Health Risks

With record temperatures predicted in Indianapolis during the next several days, the Marion County Public Health Department wants to remind local residents that the extreme conditions pose a real and immediate health threat.

Please review the following information for your safety and the well-being of your family and friends.

  • The combination of temperatures above 90 degrees and humidity above 30 percent create the heat index. A heat index of 105 degrees is considered the level where many people begin to experience extreme discomfort or physical stress.
  • Elderly people, infants, chronically ill, overweight people and persons on certain medications are most susceptible to heat-related illness.
  • Those with cardiac or pulmonary problems also are at higher risk in this type of weather.
  • The threat to senior citizens is heightened because they generally do not sweat as efficiently as younger people, thus making it more difficult to adjust to high heat and humidity.
  • Those age three and under also are more likely to experience heat-related illness.
  • Never leave infants, children or pets in parked cars under any circumstances.
  • Symptoms of heat stress include dizziness, nausea or vomiting, rapid heartbeat, headaches, weakness, cramps, heavy sweating or hot, dry skin, and changes in mental health.
  • Heat illnesses can be life threatening
  • If a person appears to be in trouble, immediate emergency medical care should be obtained by calling 9-1-1
  • While air conditioning is the most ideal solution to the heat, many people live or work in situations where it is not available.
  • Fans alone do not offer appropriate cooling to provide for a healthy situation. When the temperature is in the high 90's fans will not prevent heat-related illness.
  • People who do not have air conditioning are encouraged to seek out air-conditioned environments like those found in cooling centers, public libraries and shopping malls.
  • Check on individuals who may not have access to a cooled environment.

The guidelines for keeping safe in extremely hot weather are relatively simple, and while they may be inconvenient, they are important to follow. Reduce heat related health risks by:

  • Drinking plenty of cool water with ice.
  • Avoiding prolonged exposure to high temperature.
  • Attempting to get in air conditioning, even for brief periods. If you do not have air conditioning, move to a location that is air-conditioned.
  • Cooling down with cool baths or showers.
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing.
  • Slowing down from your normal pace.
  • Avoiding alcohol.
  • Drawing shades, blinds and curtains in rooms exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Avoiding strenuous activity including working outdoors for prolonged periods of time in direct sunlight, working on surfaces like asphalt and concrete, athletic practices and other event preparation like high school band practices is strongly recommended.
  • Animal owners are advised to provide adequate shelter, food and water to their animals during the extreme heat.
  • Indianapolis Animal Care and Control offers a free program where they will pick up and take care of an animal whose owner needs to move from their home during the heat emergency. Animal Care and Control will take care of the animal until the owner returns home. The owner is responsible for picking up their pet.

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