Summer and Fall Heat Advisory
Summer and Fall months can bring on HOT weather raising both temperatures and valid concerns about how to stay safe as well as the risk of wildfires and smoke. It is not uncommon that during these months Berkeley and surrounding communities will reach near or triple-digit weather 100°F.
Tips For Preventing Heat-Related Illness
Summer and Fall heat waves can be dangerous, leading to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and potentially life-threatening heat stroke. To protect your health when temperatures are very high:
- Get Plenty to Drink - Sweating removes needed salt and minerals from the body. When it is hot, drink more water and juice. Avoid drinks with caffeine (tea, coffee, and cola) and alcohol. Be sure to eat regularly.
- Stay Cool Indoors - The best way to beat the heat is to stay in an air-conditioned area. If you don’t have an air conditioner, go to an air-conditioned store or public building for a few hours if you can, and keep blinds/shades closed during the day at home to preserve any cool air from the nighttime. A cool shower or bath, or a quick misting of the face from a portable spray bottle are also wonderful and effective ways to cool off, especially if followed by rest near a fan.
- Wear Light Clothing and Sunscreen - Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. In the hot sun, a wide-brimmed hat will keep the head cool. If you will be in direct sun, wear a ventilated hat made of breathable light-colored material that provides shade to ears, neck, and eyes, and use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher on exposed areas.
- Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully - Try to be less active during the hottest part of the day, late afternoon. If you must be out in the heat, plan your activities so that you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening. While outdoors, rest often in a shady area. Never, ever leave kids or pets in a parked car.
- Pace Yourself - If you are not used to working or exercising in hot weather, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. Take frequent, regularly scheduled breaks. If activity in the heat makes your heart pound or leaves you gasping for breath, stop activity, get into a cool or shady area, and rest. Especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or feel faint.
- Use a Buddy System - During a heat wave, check on your friends and family and have someone do the same for you. If you know someone who is elderly or has a health condition, check on them twice a day during a heat wave. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
High temperatures can cause serious health problems. Know the symptoms of heat-related illness and be ready to help or seek help if needed.
Smoke Days Tips
- Limit outdoor activities to avoid unnecessary exposure if you smell smoke.
- Set air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate to prevent outside air from moving inside.
- Reduce exposure to smoky air by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed, if possible. Unfitted masks, even N95 masks do not provide enough protection to go about business as usual.
- Stay tuned to local media for changes in smoke or weather conditions. Bay Area information can be found at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District website and the EPA Air Now website.
- Additional information on how to protect yourself during wildfires from the California Department of Public Health.
Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, causing coughing, a scratchy throat, and irritated eyes and sinuses. Substances released from fires far away, while very unlikely to cause any significant health hazards, can contribute to headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Elevated particulate matter in the air can trigger shortness of breath and/or wheezing in those who suffer from asthma, emphysema, or COPD.
For most people, the poor air quality from wildfires that periodically affect the Bay Area is unpleasant rather than dangerous. However, elderly persons, children, and individuals with respiratory illnesses are particularly susceptible to elevated air pollution levels and should take extra precautions to avoid exposure and talk to their clinicians in advance to ensure they have a plan (medications and more) when the air quality rises into the unhealthy range.
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