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The City of New Orleans

Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu

Extreme Heat

Extreme heat events or heat waves are periods or abnormally and uncomfortably hot and unusually humid weather. Heat waves normally last two or more days.

What are heat related illnesses?

Heat related illnesses are the leading cause of extreme weather-related deaths in the United States. It is caused by your body not being able to cool itself. Your body naturally cools down by sweating but if your body heats too fast, it may not be able to cool itself fast enough, causing permanent damage or even death.

Who is at risk?

The following people have the highest risk of experiencing heat related illness:

  • Children 4 years old and younger
  • Adults 65 years and older
  • People who are overweight
  • People who are ill or on certain medications

How do I know if I have a heat related illness?

Muscle cramping might be the first sign of heat-­‐related illness, and may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke. Here is how you can recognize heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do: 


What You Should Do

Heat Exhaustion  
  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Skin cold, pale, and clammy
  • Weak pulse
  • Fainting and vomiting
  • Move to a cooler location.
  • Lie down and loosen your clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
  • Sip water.
  • If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.
Heat Stroke  
  • High body temperature (above 103°F)*
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness 
  • Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
  • Move the person to a cooler environment.
  • Reduce the person's body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
  • Do NOT give fluids.

If you believe you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

What should I do to prevent illness?

Make sure to check the weather for any heat advisories in your area. Also, the CDC has made the following recommendations for protecting yourself from extreme heat:

  • Stay in an air conditioned area during the hottest parts of the day. If you don't have air-conditioning in your home, go to a public place such as a library or shopping mall to stay cool. Also, check if there are any cooling stations open in your area.
  • Wear light loose-fitting clothing.
  • Drink water often, don't wait until you're thirsty.
  • Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or in a building without air-conditioning.
  • Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. When in the sun, wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim.

Air-conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat related illness. Exposure to air-conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk of heat related illness.


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Last updated: 1/29/2016 12:35:00 PM

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