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Climate and Health: Heat Health and Safety Tips

Although Wisconsin is not generally considered a “hot climate” location, extreme heat events happen! The state of Wisconsin is expected to see 20-30 more days of 90-plus degrees Fahrenheit in the next 50 years, according to the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Be prepared and know how to respond when extreme heat hits your community.

Read this heat safety fact sheet, P-02076 (PDF) for safety tips and more information.

For an in-depth look at extreme heat and climate change, check out this document from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stay cool in the heat

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water on hot days. Don't drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar—these cause you to lose more body fluid. Avoid hot, heavy meals.
  • Stay in air conditioning. When possible, stay in air conditioning on hot days. If you don’t have air conditioning, head to libraries, malls, and other public spaces to keep cool.
  • Check on loved ones. Extreme heat can affect anyone of any age, including youth and adults. Be sure to check on older friends and neighbors who live alone and don’t have air conditioning.
  • Avoid the hottest part of the day. If you have to be outside, stick to the cooler morning and evening hours. Wear light, loose clothing and take frequent, air conditioned breaks.
  • Beware of hot cars. Never leave a person or a pet in a parked car, even for a short time. On an 80 degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
  • Stay informed. Watch your local weather forecasts so you can plan outdoor activities safely. Pay attention to any extreme heat alerts.

At-risk populations

Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.

  • People 15-34 are most likely to visit the emergency room for heat-related illness, but older adults are most likely to be hospitalized.
  • Infants and children up to four years of age are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.
  • People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to change in temperature.
  • Men are about twice as likely to visit the emergency room for heat-related illness as women.
  • People who are overweight may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.
  • People who overexert during work or exercise may become dehydrated and susceptible to heat sickness.
  • People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat.
Last revised November 7, 2022