Summer can be a fun time with vacations, picnics and other enjoyable activities, but the hot weather poses many potential health risks such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

To avoid the hot weather, stay in a well ventilated, air-conditioned room and avoid going outside if possible. If you do not have an air conditioner, visit friends or family or try to find movie theaters, malls, libraries and other public places that are cool, and wear your mask and still maintain social distance.

If you must go outside:

Drink plenty of water even if you are not thirsty and wear light-weight, light-colored clothing and a hat. Also, wear light colored and cotton face masks and switch out through the day.
Stay in the shade when you can.
Children, the elderly, and people with chronic ailments are especially vulnerable to the heat. Please check on elderly neighbors to make sure they are safe.
Heat exhaustion, cramps, or in extreme cases heat stroke can result from prolonged exposure to these conditions.


On many hot and humid days an Air Quality Alert will likely be issued. These Alerts mean that the pollution in the air make it more difficult for older adults, young children and those who suffer from heart disease and respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema to breathe.

Read more information on Air Quality and Air Quality Alerts.

Heat Safety Tips

The following tips are recommended to avoid heat related illnesses:

  • Drink plenty of water. It is important to drink fluid, especially if you are out in the sun. Water is your best option. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid beverages with alcohol, caffeine and sugar. They may sound good, but can actually speed up dehydration.
  • Use a fan to circulate the air. Even if you have air conditioning, a fan which keeps the air moving, will let you set the thermostat several degrees higher and still be comfortable.
  • Use your basement during the hottest hours. If you do not have air conditioning but you have a basement, set up housekeeping there for the duration. Basements are usually 10 degrees cooler than the upstairs part of your house.
  • Be a good neighbor. Check on your neighbors several times during the day. This is especially important if they are elderly, in poor health and/or live alone. One of the early symptoms of heat stroke is loss of consciousness, and those described above may not be able to seek help. You may be their only link to early, lifesaving treatment.

  • Senior citizens living without air conditioning should spend the hottest hours of the day with family or friends or at air conditioned facilities such as malls, movie theaters or senior centers.
  • Take extra care of young children. Children are susceptible to heat injury especially those 18 months or younger. Children are most susceptible in any small, closed area such as trailer/mobile homes, closed bedrooms, closed bathrooms, and cars. If you have questions about how to care for your young child, call your doctor.
  • Eat light meals.
  • Wear lightweight and light colored cotton clothing and a hat.
  • Stay in the shade.
  • Be kind to your pets. Pets suffer from the heat as much as you do. Provide them with shade and plenty of cool water or bring them into the AC. Do not leave pets in a car with window closed. This is extremely dangerous.


Illnesses Associated with Heat

Illnesses associated with heat include:
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

Symptoms include:
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Absence of perspiration
  • Dry, hot flushed skin.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

Read more information on heat safety for the most current up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cooling Assistance Programs

The Central Ohio Breathing Association and the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

Summer Crisis Program, providing electric bill assistance and air conditioning units for elderly households and customers with qualifying incomes and medical conditions. Call (614) 457-2997 for an appointment.

LifeCare Alliance

Free fan program for households with immediate family members with chronic health conditions. New box fans also can be donated for the program at any City of Columbus fire station. For more information, call (614) 437-2803.

Franklin County Senior Options

Free fan program for current clients ages 60 years or older without a working air conditioner. (Clients who received a fan in the last two years are ineligible.) For more information, call (614) 525‑6200.

Impact Community Action

Impact Community Action's Summer Crisis Program starts July 1, 2020. Find more information here.