Extreme Heat – Mitigation (Actions Before, During, After)


Mitigation is deciding on which actions to take before, during, and after the next disaster — to reduce human and financial consequences later by analyzing, reducing, and insuring against risk.

The following actions are some important recommendations that you can follow through each stage of an Extreme Heat emergency:[1] [2]

Actions Before: Determine Risk, Increase Knowledge, Safeguard, Plan

General All-Hazard Actions:

  • Determine the disaster risks in your locale and the hazards that accompany them.
  • Increase your knowledge about the emergency warning signals and alert notifications used in your community.
  • Instruct family members how to shut off water, gas and electricity to your house.
  • Make the necessary property preparations to reduce the damage from the hazard.
  • Acquire a backup generator in case of a prolonged power failure.
  • Check into insurance (property, health, life, and hazard type).
  • Make the necessary financial arrangements in case of a sudden evacuation and power outage that shuts down local ATMs and banks.
  • Organize important documents and records and store them in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
  • Perform home inventory video taping and store tape in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
  • Develop an Emergency Communication Plan with evacuation plan and ask an out-of-state person to serve as the "family contact".
  • Assemble a shelter-in-place Emergency Supplies Kit.
  • Assemble a mobile Emergency Supplies Kit that can serve as a “grab and go” bag?
  • Get a family member trained in first aid and CPR.
  • Make the necessary preparations and arrangements for pets, seniors, and the disabled.
  • Familiarize yourself with the emergency plans of your family member's employment building, school, day care center, or nursing home.

Hazard Specific Actions:

  • Install window air conditioners.
  • Install temporary reflectors to reflect heat outside.
  • Consider keeping storm windows up year round.
  • Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.

Actions During: Safety Basics, Evacuation, Shelter in Place

  • Protect windows that receive sun by hanging draperies or shades.
  • Conserve electricity.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible; stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of water. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress in loose fitting clothes.
  • Allow body to get acclimated to the heat within the first few days of a heat wave, avoid sunshine and use sunscreen if needed.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule strenuous activities.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.

Actions After: Get Disaster Relief, Clean-up, Salvage

Extreme heat brings with it the possibility of heat-induced illnesses. The following lists these illnesses, their symptoms, and first aid treatment:

  • Sunburn
    • Symptoms: Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches.
    • First Aid: Shower using soap to remove oils that may block pores. If blistering occurs, apply dry, sterile dressings and get medical attention.
  • Heat Cramps
    • Symptoms: Painful spasms in leg and abdominal muscles.
    • First Aid: Get the victim to a cooler location. Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relieve spasms. Give sips of up to a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. (Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol.) Discontinue liquids, if victim is nauseated.
  • Heat Exhaustion
    • Symptoms: Heavy sweating but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Weak pulse. Normal body temperature is possible, but temperature will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches are possible.
    • First Aid: Get victim to lie down in a cool place. Loosen or remove clothing. Apply cool, wet clothes. Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place. Give sips of water if victim is conscious. Be sure water is consumed slowly. Give half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Discontinue water if victim is nauseated. Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.
  • Heat/Sun Stroke
    • Symptoms: High body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid shallow breathing. Victim will probably not sweat unless victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity. Possible unconsciousness.
    • First Aid: Call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services, or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal. Move victim to a cooler environment. Removing clothing. Try a cool bath, sponging, or wet sheet to reduce body temperature. Watch for breathing problems.



  1. American Red Cross, CDC – Emergency Preparedness and Response, FEMA – Are You Ready? Guide, Ready.gov, Be a Force of Nature with NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation, National Weather Service Weather Safety
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