NJM Blog

Dealing With the Summer Heat

Owner taking care of thirsty dog by giving it water.

Healthy doses of vitamin D produced by your body strengthen your immune system and increase serotonin levels to help boost your mood. While a sunny summer day can provide a lot of enjoyment, soaring summer temperatures, and extreme heat pose life–threatening health risks.

What is extreme heat?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat is defined as summertime temperatures that are much hotter and/or humid than average. Depending on where you live (e.g., Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami), some hot temperatures may be considered average for that region at particular times of the year.

Signs of heat–related illnesses

  • Heat cramp — muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs

  • Heat exhaustion — heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, fatigue, weak pulse

  • Heatstroke — extremely high temperature (over 103 degrees on an oral thermometer), rapid pulse, dizziness, confusion, and red, hot, dry skin with no sweat

Who is at the highest risk?

  • Ages 65 and older

  • Children younger than 2

  • Youth sports participants

  • People who are chronically sick or overweight

Here are some tips to help you beat the heat:

Drink Up

  • Drink plenty of water; don’t wait until you’re thirsty

  • If you have pets, be sure to keep their water bowls filled

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol; both can promote dehydration

Stay indoors

  • Close curtains and pull down shades to darken your rooms

  • Turn off lights and computer, which generate heat

  • Don’t use a stove or oven to cook

Cooling effect

  • If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a public facility (libraries, malls, community centers) that does

  • Please don’t rely on a ceiling or floor fan exclusively to cool you off; it only circulates hot air

  • Go to your basement; it’s the coolest place in the house

Take it easy outside

  • Limit outdoor activities (walking the dog, cutting grass) to before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m., when it’s cooler

  • Wear loose, lightweight, and light–colored clothing, a wide–brimmed hat, and sunglasses, and apply sunscreen (SPF15 or higher) if you plan to go outdoors

Take care of others

  • Never leave children or pets in the car

  • Don’t leave your pets outside

  • Check on older family members and neighbors


Extreme Heat | Ready.gov
About Extreme Heat | Natural Disasters and Severe Weather | CDC
Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather! | NCEH | CDC
Heat Wave Safety | Heat Exhaustion Safety | Red Cross
Surviving the Hot Weather - National Safety Council (nsc.org)
Hyperthermia: What You Need to Know About Heat-Related Illness (webmd.com)
Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov)
Keep pets safe in the heat | The Humane Society of the United States

The information contained in this article should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.