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Extreme Heat: Take steps to protect yourself.

Extreme Heat - Take Steps to Protect

With temperatures rising in our area, Buncombe County residents should take action to protect themselves, children, and pets from heat-related illness. Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable yet, according to the CDC, more than 600 people in the US are killed by extreme heat annually. Prolonged exposure to heat can lead to dehydration, overheating, heat illness, and even death. It is important to pay attention to the weather if spending time outside working or participating in outdoor recreational activities.

Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, not even for a few minutes; temperatures inside a car rapidly increase and can reach dangerous and fatal temperatures in as little as 10 minutes. In the United States, approximately 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle.

Individuals should stay wary of signs of heat-related illness. Symptoms include muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, fainting, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Children, those who are pregnant, adults 65 and older, those without access to air conditioning, outdoor workers, and those with chronic health conditions are most vulnerable.

To reduce the risk of heat-related illness:  

  • Increase your fluid intake. (Drink Water!)
  • Take frequent breaks in cool, shady, or air-conditioned places if spending extended time outside. 
  • Speak with your physician about how to stay safe if you take medicines that make you more vulnerable to heat, such as tranquilizers or drugs for high blood pressure, migraines, allergies, muscle spasms, and mental health. 
  • Check on neighbors, and if working outdoors, check on your co-workers. 
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in vehicles, especially during warm or hot weather, as temperature levels inside a car can reach a deadly level in a matter of minutes.
  • Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out.

If you or someone you know experiences heat-related illness, move to a cool place, drink water, place cold clothes on the body and seek medical attention.

Important Local Resource

ABCCM Crisis Ministry has window A/C units and box fans available for Buncombe County residents who need some relief from the hot temperatures. The organization also provides food and clothing at all ABCCM Crisis sites as well as financial assistance for those moving into housing, facing eviction, or a utility cut-off. The following populations are eligible to take advantage of this service:

  • Mothers with children
  • Individuals over 65
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • People with chronic conditions exacerbated by the heat

Apply in person at an ABCCM Crisis Ministry facility near you. Find your nearest crisis ministry facility online at or by calling (828) 259-5300.

Tips for Staying Safe in Extreme Heat

  • Hydrate. Whether you feel thirsty or not, drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated, especially when you're working or exercising outside. Keep in mind that excessive sweating removes salt and minerals from our bodies that must be replaced. A sports drink can help you replace lost minerals and salt.
  • Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Educate yourself. Keep up with the latest temperature and heat index forecasts and current readings (take actions to stay cool and safe when the temperatures hit 85 degrees or the heat index hits 90 degrees).
  • Act quickly when a heat illness is suspected. Seek medical attention immediately for any of these warning signs: cramping, rapid pulse, heavy sweating, hot red skin, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Take it easy. Anyone working or exercising outdoors should avoid overexertion, especially between the hours of 11 am and 6 pm. Take hourly breaks in the shade or in air conditioning.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Try to limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.

Heat-Related Illness

Heat Stroke

What To Look For

  • High body temperature (103°F or higher)
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Losing consciousness (passing out)

What To Do

  • Call 911 right away-heat stroke is a medical emergency
  • Move the person to a cooler place
  • Help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath
  • Do not give the person anything to drink

Heat Exhaustion

What To Look For

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting (passing out)

What To Do

  • Move to a cool place
  • Loosen your clothes
  • Put cool, wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath
  • Sip water

Get medical help right away if:

  • You are throwing up
  • Your symptoms get worse
  • Your symptoms last longer than 1 hour

Heat Cramps

What To Look For

  • Heavy sweating during intense exercise
  • Muscle pain or spasms

What To Do

  • Stop physical activity and move to a cool place
  • Drink water or a sports drink
  • Wait for cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity

Get Medical Help Right Away If:

  • Cramps last longer than 1 hour
  • You’re on a low-sodium diet
  • You have heart problems


What To Look For

  • Painful, red, and warm skin
  • Blisters on the skin

What To Do

  • Stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals
  • Put cool cloths on sunburned areas or take a cool bath
  • Put moisturizing lotion on sunburned areas
  • Do not break blisters

Heat Rash

What To Look For

Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or elbow creases)

What To Do

  • Stay in a cool, dry place
  • Keep the rash dry
  • Use powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash

(Heat-Related Illness Information from

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Updated Sep 12, 2022 10:23 AM
Published Jun 14, 2022 12:00 PM