Heat Safety

Warm Weather Safety

Every year, heat related deaths are seen around Wisconsin. Heat can affect anyone.  However, it is more likely to affect young children, elderly people and people with health problems. Per Wisconsin Emergency Management, summer heat waves have been the biggest weather-related killers in Wisconsin for the past 50 years, far exceeding tornadoes, severe storms, flash floods, and lightning combined.  

National Weather Service Terminology

  • Excessive Heat Warning: Within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Warning is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 105° or higher for at least 2 days and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75°. 
  • Excessive Heat Watch: When conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain.
  • Heat Advisory: Within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Advisory is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 100° or higher for at least 2 days, and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75°. 
  • Excessive Heat Outlook: When the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days. An Outlook provides information to those who need considerable lead-time to prepare for the event.

Heat Related Illness 

  • Heat Cramps: Cramps or muscle spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs. Solution: Stop activity. Cool down, and drink clear liquids.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, fainting. Solution: Cool down and seek medical attention.
  • Heat Stroke: Extremely high body temperature, red, hot, dry skin, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and/or unconsciousness. Solution: Call 911, move the person to a cooler environment and reduce the person's body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.

Anyone can develop heat stress. However, the following groups of people have higher risks for experiencing heat stress or heat-related death: 

  • Infants and children up to four years of age
  • People 65 years of age and older 
  • People who are overweight
  • People who are ill or on certain medications

Be Prepared

  • Seek air-conditioning: If your home does not have air-conditioning, seek areas that do-such as libraries, shopping malls, community/senior centers, grocery stores, movie theatres-during the warmest period of the day. If you must stay in a home without air-conditioning, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. 
  • Avoid strenuous activities: This is particularly true during the hottest time of the day. Individuals who perform strenuous work during the heat of the day are especially at risk. 
  • Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing: Light colors reflect the sun’s rays better than dark colors, which absorb the heat. Protect the face and head with a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Check on family members, neighbors and friends who are vulnerable.  Move them to air conditioned places if possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: Increase fluid intake even if you are not thirsty.
  • Never leave pets or people, especially children and infants, unattended in cars during a heat wave.

Racine County Cooling Centers Document