NWS and Red Cross tips to stay safe during extreme heat

Extreme Heat

The American Red Cross and National Weather Service release information, reminding communities about the danger of intense heat. According to the NWS, heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States.

(Forecast:  Weather blog: Hot and very humid again for Thursday – Nick)

The American Red Cross Kansas and Oklahoma Region says a little preparation can go a long way in helping to keep you, your family and your fur babies safe.


The Red Cross says as with severe weather, there are several key terms that you need to pay close attention to so that you and those you care about can stay safe or know when to call and ask for help.

  • Excessive Heat Watch: Officials issue this if the potential for extreme heat could occur within the next 24-72 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Advisory is issued if the forecasted Heat Index is expected to hit 100 degrees. This type of weather condition increases the potential for heat related illness.
  • Excessive Heat Warning is issued if the forecasted Heat Index is expected to hit or exceed 105 degrees. This type of weather condition significantly increases the potential for heat-related illness.

Spending too much time or overdoing it in extreme heat and humidity makes it hard for our bodies to stay cool. When our bodies can’t cool down enough, we can suffer from heat-related illnesses.

Young children, older adults, individuals with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, individuals taking prescription medicines, outside workers, and those who live alone are more susceptible to the heat and are at greater risk of experiencing a heat-related illness.


The American Red Cross released the following information about heat-related illnesses.

  • Heat Cramps – the mildest heat-related illnesses, are involuntary muscle spasms and pain that usually occur in the arms, legs, and stomach.
  • Heat Exhaustion – is more severe than heat cramps and affects the entire body, not just your muscles. Heat exhaustion occurs when your body is unable to cool itself.
  • Heatstroke – is the most dangerous of all heat-related illnesses. Heat can overwhelm the body’s systems and stop functioning. This usually happens because people ignore the signs of heat exhaustion. Heatstroke can lead to permanent damage of your body’s organs and can be life-threatening.


  1. Stay Aware – watch weather warnings and adhere to safety precautions. NEVER leave children or pets in your vehicle.
  2. Keep Cool – if you do not have a working air conditioner, seek relief during the hottest part of the day in places such as libraries, theaters or malls.
  3. Stay Hydrated – drink plenty of fluids, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
  4. Limit Outdoor Activity – avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day and wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
  5. Stay Connected – check on friends, family and elderly neighbors who may not have air conditioning or live alone.

More tips and tools on how to prepare for extreme heat and resources on providing assistance to someone impacted by heat-related illness can be found in the free Red Cross Emergency App.

Heat, Health, Vulnerable Populations

The National Weather Service cited the following groups as particularly vulnerable to heat.

  • Young children and infants: They are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illness and death, as their bodies are less able to adapt to heat than are adults.
  • Older adults can experience multiple adverse effects, particularly those with pre-existing diseases, take certain medications, are living alone or with limited mobility.
  • People with chronic medical conditions are more likely to have a serious health problem during a heatwave than healthy people
  • Pregnant women are also at higher risk. Health officials have associated extreme heat events with adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality, as well as congenital cataracts

“It is NEVER safe to leave a child, disabled person or pet locked in a car, even in the winter. If you have a toddler in your household, lock your cars, even in your own driveway.  Kids play in cars or wander outside and get into a car and can die in 10 minutes! A reported 25 children died in hot cars in 2020. To see the latest information for 2021, go to this link. Deaths routinely are reported as early as April and tragedies continue into December in southern states.” – National Weather Service

NWS Safety information on Children, Pets and Vehicles: Find out more about how cars can heat up quickly when left in the sun. Information and resources in both English and Spanish from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.