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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.

During periods of very hot weather, visit for information about indoor public spaces to get out of the heat in Contra Costa County.

At Home
Hot Cars
Homeless Residents

  • Outdoors

    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)
    • Wear 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.

  • At home

    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.

  • Hot cars

    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.

  • Children

    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

    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.

  • Homeless residents

    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.

  • Resources