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The Health Risks from Severe Heat

July 22, 2022

The summer heat poses significant health risks, particularly for older adults.

This week, the Wolf administration reminded all Pennsylvanians to take precautions against the heat and to ensure their loved ones are staying safe. Older adults may be less able to respond to extreme temperatures, and medication also can affect how a person's body reacts to heat, officials noted.

"Older adults are particularly vulnerable to the summer's high temperatures and humidity that can lead to heat exhaustion and heat strokes," said Dr. Denise Johnson, Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary and physician general.

It’s recommended Pennsylvanians take the following precautions to stay safe this summer:

  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks that can cause dehydration.
  • Stay indoors during the warmest periods of the day.
  • Avoid direct sunlight for long periods or extended stretches in unventilated rooms.
  • Dress in lighter colors and loose-fitting clothing. Wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Check in on those who may be vulnerable. Never leave children or pets unattended inside of vehicles during the heat.

"During this time of the year, we ask Pennsylvanians to be good neighbors and check on our most vulnerable citizens who may have limited mobility or may not have a way to easily escape the heat," Dr. Johnson said.

In addition, be on alert for the signs of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Learn more about the importance of summer safety online.