With extreme hot temperatures still in the forecast, Minneapolis City officials want to remind everyone how to handle the heat. Heat-related illness happens when the body isn’t able to cool itself. Seniors, small children and people with physical disabilities and pets are the most vulnerable to heat-related illness, but everyone should take steps to stay safe in extreme heat.
The Minneapolis Health Department works closely with other local jurisdictions and the Minnesota Department of Health to help folks prepare for extreme heat events. Minneapolis has an emergency plan that is used to respond when a heat advisory or warning is called by the National Weather Service. The plan is coordinated with a metro-wide notification plan that reaches out to agencies that serve vulnerable populations.
Tips for preventing heat-related illness during extreme heat:
- Drink more fluids. Drinking fluids helps your body cool itself. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid drinking liquids with caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar. They can actually cause your body to lose more fluid. Remind anyone you are responsible for to drink more water.
- Never leave any person or animals in a parked vehicle.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitted clothing.
- Check on your neighbors who may be at risk. Visit seniors and other vulnerable neighbors at least twice a day and look closely for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you or your neighbors are not vaccinated for COVID-19, you can call, text, video or meet them and keep a 6-foot distance. Seek medical advice immediately if you notice nausea, weakness, disorientation, rapid pulse and dry skin.
- Take an air conditioning break. Air conditioning is your best defense against heat-related illness. If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned and using air conditioning in vehicles.
For a list of public, air-conditioned buildings for those who don’t have air conditioning in their homes, go to the City of Minneapolis Health Department’s extreme heat preparedness web page at minneapolismn.gov/resident-services/emergency-preparedness/public-health/extreme-heat-preparedness.
- Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest. Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. If you must be outside, try to limit your activity to morning and evening hours, pace your activity and take frequent breaks in the shade, drink plenty of fluids, and protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.
- Don’t rely on an electric fan. Electric fans may seem to provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Using wet cloths, showers or baths, or a spray of mist on exposed skin will help cool your body temperature.
Tips for wearing a mask in the summer heat
- Choose a mask with breathable fabrics, such as cotton.
- Keep an extra mask with you to swap out if necessary. If your mask becomes damp with sweat, its ability to block COVID-19 could diminish.
- If you are feeling overheated while wearing your mask, take it off for a moment and breathe, making sure that you are six feet apart from others. Be sure to put it back on when you are ready to continue.
Protect your pets
The temperature inside a car can change drastically in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t have to be that hot outside for the temperature inside a vehicle to become dangerous to animals left inside – even with windows cracked. Animals left in vehicles can suffer from heatstroke and irreparable organ and brain damage. Minneapolis Animal Care and Control urges pet owners to take special precautions to protect their animals when the heat index is so high. Here are a few tips to keep your pets safe and alive:
- Keep your pet inside and out of the direct sun.
- Be sure your pet has enough clean, cool water.
- Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car for any period of time. On a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120 degrees in a matter of minutes – even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.
If you see an animal outside or in a car exhibiting signs of heat stress, contact Minneapolis Animal Care & Control (MACC) immediately – in Minneapolis, call 311 (612-673-3000). If you believe the situation to be life-threatening, please call 911.
For more information on heat-related illness and how to prevent it, visit the City’s public health emergency preparedness website.