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Hot weather preparedness

When it's hot, the number of people in King County who have serious health problems like heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure rises with the temperature.

Who is at higher risk

If you are in one of these groups, take extra precautions to stay cool, drink water, and take breaks from the heat:

  • Older adults (65 and older)
  • Young children
  • People with chronic health conditions or mental illness
  • Athletes who exercise outdoors
  • Outdoor workers
  • People living unsheltered or homeless

Medications and health conditions can make you more sensitive to heat, including those for allergies and colds, thyroid, depression, heart/blood pressure, and weight loss. Check with your doctor about your health conditions and medications.

What to do on hot days

  • Check on at-risk friends, family and neighbors

  • Stay cool

    • Spend time in air-conditioned buildings (such as malls, movie theaters, or libraries) if you can and avoid direct contact with the sun.
    • Some cities in King County may offer cooling centers for those who need them.
    • Reduce physical activity and move to shaded areas.
    • Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning or evening hours.
    • Cool your body down quickly by wearing a wet scarf, bandana, or shirt.
  • Stay hydrated

    • Drink plenty of water and don't wait until you're thirsty to drink more.
    • Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol. They can be dehydrating.
  • No infants, children and pets in parked cars

    Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open. It only takes a few minutes for severe medical problems and even death to occur.

  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke

    Seek medical care immediately if you know someone who experiences symptoms. See below for additional details.

  • Check the risk for heat

    See whether there’s a risk of health problems from heat in your zip code at CDC’s HeatRisk page.  You can get the full weather forecast from National Weather Service.

Water safety

Some people turn to local rivers to cool off, but drowning is a real concern. Please use caution and wear a personal flotation device (PFD) on the water. Find deals on affordable lifejackets. And if you want to swim, choose a safer location – visit a local pool or lifeguarded beach instead.

Recognizing heat exhaustion and heat stroke

When people's bodies can't cool themselves quickly enough it can cause heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting. If you see someone with signs of overheating, move the person to a cooler location, have them rest for a few minutes and then slowly drink a cool beverage. Get medical attention for them immediately if they do not feel better.

Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can cause death or permanent disability unless treated immediately. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Nausea, confusion and unconsciousness