Health information for hot weather

Colling centers in Puyallup

Colling Centers around Pierce County including Cross Park – Cooling Center

From the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department

When the weather heats up, know how to stay safe.

When outside temperatures are very high, the danger for heat-related illness rises. Older adults, young children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at particularly high risk.

The following tips will help you and your family stay safe:

Keep cool:

  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.
  • Dress in lightweight clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths.
  • Don’t rely solely on fans to keep you cool. Electric fans can provide some comfort, but when temperatures are hot, they don’t prevent heat-related illness.
  • Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.
  • Visit a cooling center. Spend time at a shopping mall, grocery store or public location—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help.
  • Stay inside during the hottest times of the day (afternoon and early evening).
  • Check on your elderly neighbors and relatives, and encourage them to keep cool and hydrated.

Drink liquids:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and lots of sugar—they actually dehydrate you.
  • Keep water with you whenever possible, and sip or drink frequently.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

If you go outside:

  • Limit the time you’re in direct sunlight.
  • Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car.
  • Limit activities that are tiring, or that take a lot of energy.
  • Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours.
  • Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

Water safety

Some people turn to local rivers to cool off, but drowning is a real concern. Use caution and wear a lifejacket on the water. If you want to swim, choose a safer location—visit a local pool or beach with a lifeguard on duty.  Learn more about staying safe outdoors on our Injury Prevention pages.

Know the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. 

Heat cramps

  • Signs: Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs.
  • Actions: Go to a cooler location. Remove excess clothing. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. If you are sick and need medical attention, call your healthcare provider. If cramps last more than an hour, seek medical attention.

 Heat exhaustion

  • Signs: Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea, vomiting.
  • Actions: Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. Loosen or remove clothing. Take a cool bath. Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Call your healthcare provider if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.

 Heat stroke

  • Signs: Extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees). Red, hot and dry skin with no sweat. Rapid, strong pulse. Dizziness, confusion or unconsciousness.
  • Actions: Call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.



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