Before the Heat Wave - Know the terms used by the National Weather
Service during these periods:
Heat Watch -- Excessive heat is possible in the next day or two.
Heat Advisory -- High and potentially dangerous values of heat index are occurring, imminent, or
highly likely. Prolonged exposure to heat and/or strenuous activity may result in heat-related
illness. In Illinois, heat advisories are issued for a daytime maximum heat index of 105 and
nighttime minimum of 80.
Heat Warning -- Life threatening heat is occurring, imminent or highly likely. Take precautions! In
Illinois a heat warning is issued for a daytime maximum heat index of 115 with a minimum of 80.
In the city of Chicago a heat warning is issued for any of the following; 3 days of heat index
100-105 with a minimum heat index of 75, 2 days of maximum heat index of 105-110 or any day
with maximum heat index of 115.
In addition to knowing the terms, keep the following in mind:
-Check NOAA Weather Radio for the latest forecast when planning outdoor activity.
-Have a place to cool off. If you don't have air conditioning, find out if your community has cooling
-Some cities open schools, park buildings or other air conditioned public buildings as cooling
shelters. Plan to spend some time at a library or shopping mall, or with a family member or
-Check on elderly or ill neighbors and family members.
-Learn the symptoms of potential heat disorders and the proper first aid for each.
Common Sense is the Best Defense:
-Spend some time in air conditioning, if possible. Even just two hours a day in air conditioning can
significantly reduce the risk of heat-related illness. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the
lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Try to go to a public building with air conditioning each day for
several hours. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate,
which cools your body.
-Drink plenty of water and natural juices, even if you don't feel thirsty.
-Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the
coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
-Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of
the sun's energy.
-Avoid going out in the blazing heat, if you can.
-If you must be out in the sun, use sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
-Keep shades drawn and blinds closed, but windows open slightly.
-Keep lights down low or turned off.
-Take cool baths or showers periodically, use cool wet towels.
-Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase
-Avoid using the oven.
-Avoid alcoholic beverages and beverages with caffeine such as coffee, tea and cola. They can
make you feel good briefly, but make the heat's effects on your body worse. This is especially
true about beer, which dehydrates the body.
-Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
-Do not leave children or pets in a closed vehicle . . . even for a few minutes. Temperatures inside
a closed vehicle can reach 140 to 190 within 30 minutes on a hot day.
Stay informed about the heat wave by listening to NOAA Weather Radio, or
commercial radio and television for the latest heat warnings and advisories.
Young or old, heat can kill you.
Here are tips for dealing with heat obtained from
NOAA and The American Red Cross