Heat and Your Health
Even short periods of high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Know the symptoms of heat disorders and overexposure to the sun and be ready to give first aid treatment.
Call 911 if you or someone near you is having a health emergency.
Where to go
Many public spaces have air conditioning, from indoor shopping malls to libraries to movie theaters. Check the weather forecast and plan to spend the hottest hours inside.
Some Contra Costa cities open community buildings, or keep them open late, during periods of extreme heat. Check the web pages and social media accounts of cities near you.
Emergency cooling centers also may be opened for seniors and people with disabilities. To find a cooling center in Contra Costa call 1-800-510-2020 from inside the county or 925-229-8434 if you're outside.
Avoid strenuous outdoor activity, such as exercise or manual labor, during the hottest parts of the day. If you must work outside, be sure to
- Wear a hat and sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
- ear light, loose-fitting clothing
- Drink 16 to 32 ounces of cool fluids every hour – not alcohol or sugary beverages
- Take frequent breaks in a shaded space
- Use the buddy system and make sure someone can check on you frequently
If your doctor recommends limiting the amount of fluid you drink, or if you use water pills, ask them how much you should drink when the weather is hot.
Salty sports drinks or salt tablets can help replace minerals lost by sweating but talk to your doctor first if you have a low-sodium diet.
Visit public spaces with air conditioning if you have none at home. If you use electric fans, remember they do not protect against heat illness once the temperature reaches the 90s (F).
Stay comfortable and safe by
- Keeping doors and windows closed
- Drawing shades and curtains, lower blinds
- Taking a cool shower or bath
- Drinking more – do not wait until thirsty
- Keep off electrical appliances and avoid using the oven or clothes dryer
- Avoiding hot or heavy meals
Check on friends, family and neighbors frequently, especially if they are older adults or live alone. Leave out fresh water in a shady area for pets.
Don't leave children or animals unattended in hot cars. The inside of a car sitting in the sun can reach 150 °F in 20 minutes.
If you are concerned about an unattended person or animal inside a parked car in Contra Costa County, call the local police department or the Sheriff's Office at 925-646-2441.
Infants under six months old and babies born prematurely are particularly at risk of overheating. Warning signs include loss of appetite and skin that is hot to the touch.
In hot weather, parents should
- Dress baby in light clothing (diaper and T-shirt is fine)
- Give baby frequent baths in lukewarm water. Avoid cold water, which makes them shiver.
- Make sure baby drinks or breastfeeds regularly
- Use fans to create air movement, but don't let them blow directly on baby
- Outdoors, keep baby in the shade and with a hat
Parents of school-age children should
- Make sure they drink at least 8 ounces of water or other non-sweetened fluids every hour during the heat of the day
- Apply sunscreen and keep them in the shade
- Provide indoor activities during periods of extreme heat
Adults who are 65 and older are at higher risk of heat illness than younger people because their bodies do not adjust as well to rapid changes in temperature.
Others at higher risk include
- People who are overweight
- People with heart disease or high blood pressure
- People who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia or poor circulation
Talk to your doctor about whether to adjust your medications during hot weather, but never change your medications on your own.
Residents of Contra Costa County who lack housing can get help, including access to air-conditioned facilities, by calling 211 and asking for a CORE outreach team.
Call 211 and ask for a CORE outreach team if you observe someone who may be homeless and in need of assistance to get out of the heat.
- Extreme Heat (Ready.gov)
- Extreme Heat (CDC)
- American Red Cross Heat Wave Safety
- NWS Heat Safety Tips
- OSHA Heat Illness Prevention
- Cooling Tips to Survive Summer Heat | Spanish
- PG&E: Public Safety Power Shutoff Fact Sheet
- PG&E: Public Safety Power Shutoff Policies and Procedures (PSPS)