Tips for Staying Safe in Extreme Atlanta Heat

A few pointers from DeKalb County for dealing with this week's punishing heat wave.

DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis, the Department of Recreation Parks & Cultural Affairs, the DeKalb County Public Library, the DeKalb Board of Health, and the DeKalb Emergency Management Agency recommend everyone take steps to protect against the dangers of excessive heat as a result of high temperatures expected today and tomorrow in metro Atlanta. Heat-related illness can affect anyone; however, elderly and children four years of age and younger are at greater risk.


The following safety tips are recommended for anyone who must be outdoors:

  • Limit time outdoors during the heat of the day.
  • Drink plenty of water if you are going to be outside.
  • Take frequent breaks from outdoor activity.
  • Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing, and a hat to block the sun.
  • Dress in lightweight materials, in light colors if you are going to be outside.
  • Exercise such as running or playing basketball should be conducted either early morning or during evening hours.
  • Visit elderly neighbors to make sure they are okay.
  • Under no circumstances should you leave children or pets in the car during extreme heat.
  • Even with the windows down, the temperature in the car can rise dangerously.
  • Go to an air-conditioned building such as a cooling shelter if your home does not have air conditioning.

When temperatures peak, residents can seek shelter at the following DeKalb County recreation centers: Exchange, Lynwood, Midway, and Redan, Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Shelter is also available at the following public regional library branches: Chamblee, Tucker-Reid H. Cofer, Hairston-Crossing, and Salem Panola. These branches are open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday.

If you work or spend a significant amount of time outdoors then please be aware of symptoms of heat-related illness:

Heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, those with high blood pressure, and those working or exercising in a hot environment.

The warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

What steps can be taken to cool the body during heat exhaustion?

  • Go indoors in an air-conditioned environment
  • Drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages
  • Rest
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
  • Wear lightweight clothing

Heat stroke
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to
15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not

Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

What to do if you or someone has any of the warning signs of heat stroke? If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call 911 for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Do the following:

  • Get the victim to a shady area.
  • Cool the victim rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
Jonathan Cribbs June 28, 2012 at 10:30 PM
It feels like "Do the Right Thing" out there right now. Minus the pizza shop destruction.


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