Skip to main content

Please note the Imperial County Public Health Department will be open for appointments only. Department staff will be available to provide assistance by phone to members of the community who have questions related to any of the Department’s essential services.

Phone assistance will be available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. The office will be closed for lunch from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. This shall remain in effect until further notice.

Heat Illness Prevention

It's HOT Outside! banner say Stay Cool, Stay Hydrated, Stay Informed

 

Extreme Heat 

The Imperial Valley is known for the brutal summer months. Health and age play a significant role in how people react to extreme heat. Watch out for heat waves and alerts, be prepared and know the signs of heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Knowing how to prevent and treat heat related illness can make the difference between life and death.  

Tips for preventing and treating Heat-related illness 

Prevent:  

  • Drink plenty of fluids, avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol and be sure to eat regularly. 

  • Stay Cool Indoors in an air conditioned area, if you don’t have a/c go to a shopping mall or public building to cool down. Know the current cool centers and hydration stations near you. Check for free transportation for these places. 

  • Wear loose, lightweight, light colored clothing. In the hot sun, a wide-brimmed hat will keep the head cool. 

  • Avoid being active during the hottest part of the day, late afternoon. Find shade and rest often. 

  • Pace yourself, if you are not used to working or exercising outdoors, start slow and wait to acclimatize. If activity causes hear rhythm to rise, or you are short of breath stop, and get into a cool shady are and rest. Pay attention to your body and watch out for lightheadedness, confusion, weakness, or fainting. 

  • Use a buddy system. Check on friends, family, and neighbors. Check on each other at least twice a day during a heat wave and watch for signs and symptoms of heat related illness and be ready to help. 

Who is at risk? 

Extreme heat can affect everyone, especially: 

People who are exposed to high temperature more than others such as: 

  • People who work or exercise outdoors 

  • Homeless 

  • People who live in buildings without air conditioning. 

People who are more sensitive to heat: 

  • Infants 

  • Young children 

  • Pregnant women 

  • Older adults and those with existing medical conditions 

  • People under the influence of alcohol or drugs that affect their ability to stay hydrated 

People who are less able to avoid heat than others: 

  • Persons with limited incomes who cannot afford air conditioning or electricity to use it 

  • People with mobility issues 

  • People who are unwilling to leave pets behind, or concerns about being a burden to others. 

Protect yourself and your pets!

Spot 

Treat 

What signs and symptoms should you look out for? 

  • Heat stroke Signs & Symptoms  

  • Very high body temperature 

  • Altered mental state 

  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating) 

  • Rapid, strong pulse 

  • Throbbing headache 

  • Dizziness 

  • Upset Stomach 

  • Confusion 

  • Passing out 

 

  • Heat Exhaustion Signs & Symptoms 

  • Altered mental state 

  • Paleness 

  • Muscle cramps 

  • Tiredness 

  • Weakness 

  • Dizziness 

  • Headache 

  • Upset stomach or vomiting 

  • Fainting 

  • Irritability 

  • Thirst 

  • Decreased urine output 

 

  • Heat Cramps 

  • Heavy Sweating 

  • Painful muscle cramps or spasms 

 

What should you do when signs of heat related illness begin? 

  • Heat Stroke happens when the body can no longer control its temperature and the body's core temperature rises rapidly. The body begins to lose its ability to sweat and is unable to cool itself. Warning signs of heat stroke include red, hot, dry skin; very high body temperature; dizziness; nausea; confusion, strange behavior or unconsciousness; rapid pulse or throbbing headache. It can cause death or disability if treatment is not provided as soon as possible. Here's how to help someone suffering from heat stroke: 

  • Get medical help quickly. 

  • Get the victim to a shady area. 

  • Cool the person off with a cool shower, garden hose, etc. 

  • Place cold wet cloths on head, neck, armpits and groin. 

  • Do not give the victim fluids to drink. 

  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital for further instructions. 

  • Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death if treatment is not provided. 

 

  • Heat Exhaustion is less intense than heat stroke, but is still a serious health threat. It happens when the body has lost too much water and salt through sweat. Warning signs include heavy sweating, cramps, headache, nausea or vomiting, tiredness, weakness, dizziness and fainting. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can turn into heat stroke. Help the victim cool off with: 

  • Cool, nonalcoholic beverages. 

  • Rest, lying down. 

  • Cool shower, bath or sponge bath. 

  • Air-conditioning. 

  • Get medical help if the symptoms are severe or if the victim has heart problems or high blood pressure. 

 

  • Heat Cramps are muscle pains and spasms triggered by heavy activity. They usually involve the stomach muscles or the legs. It is generally thought that the loss of water and salt from heavy sweating causes the cramps. When this occurs: 

  • Stop all activities and find a cool place to sit quietly. 

  • Drink water or a sports beverage. 

  • Rest for a few hours to avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke. 

  • Get medical help if heat cramps do not stop after one hour. 

  • If the individual suffering from heat cramps has a heart condition or is on a low-sodium diet, seek medical attention immediately.