Heat-Related Health and Safety Tips

Get cool or get help now if you feel:

Dizziness  |  Headache  |  Muscle Cramps  |  Weakness  |  Nausea or Vomiting

Call 911 for these symptoms:

Hot, dry skin  |  Confusion  |  Unconsciousness  |  Chest Pains |  Shortness of Breath

Thermometer in the grass on a hot day


Drink lots of water.

To avoid dehydration, a conscious effort should be made to drink more fluids during hot weather. Rapid weight loss may be a sign of dehydration. Don't drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar--these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.

Check on your neighbors.

Make frequent checks on the status of elderly or ill relatives or neighbors that may live alone. If necessary, move them to an air-conditioned environment during the hottest part of the day.

Never leave children, pets, or other adults in a parked car.

Do not leave anyone - children, disabled individuals, pets - in cars for even brief periods. Temperatures can rise to life-threatening levels in a matter of minutes.


Warm temperatures combined with high humidity levels can pose a risk of heat-related illness and death. Extreme heat is described as temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region and last for several weeks. Humid or muggy conditions, which add to the discomfort of high temperatures, occur when a "dome" of high atmospheric pressure traps hazy, damp air near the ground.

Wisconsin Data

Heat Fatality Data 2011-2015

Using death certificate data, we determined the number of heat related fatalities during the summer months (May 1- September 30) for 2011-2015

From 2011-2015, Wisconsin had 48 confirmed heat-related fatalities. 

For detailed county results, click on the map below the bar graph. Demographic data for the fatalities was also compiled and can be found to the right. 

 

Heat Fatalities in Wisconsin - Listed by Year

 Most of the deaths were among individuals over 65 years of age and 52.1% of the cases were female.

It is important to note that 2012 had an exceptionally hot summer and 26 of the 48 deaths occurred during that time period.

Demographic Characteristics
  Number of Cases (%)
Total Deaths 48 (100%)
Female 25 (52.1%)
Age Range 2-96
Age Categories  

<20

1 (2.1%)

20-44

2 (4.2%)

45-64

11 (22.9%)

65-84

25 (52.1%)

85+

9 (18.8%)

 

Click on the image below for a larger version of the map

Wisconsin Heat Fatalities by County, 2011-2015

Stay Cool in the Heat

In Wisconsin, generally when temperatures approach or go above 90° F, the following actions are recommended:

  • Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. If such activity is unavoidable, drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks in air-conditioned or shaded areas. Consider monitoring body weight and oral temperature. A weight loss of more than 2 lbs. or an oral temperature above 99° F is cause for concern.
  • Cool showers, baths, and sponge baths can be used to reduce body temperatures. In addition, wet clothing has a cooling effect.
  • Use fans to increase ventilation. If the temperatures exceed 90° F, instead of having a fan blow hot air in from a window, have the fan blow the hot air to the outside. At extremely high temperatures, a fan loses its ability to effectively reduce heat-related illness.

At Risk Populations

Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.

  • Infants and children up to four years of age are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids. 
  • People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to change in temperature. 
  • People who are overweight may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat. 
  • People who overexert during work or exercise may become dehydrated and susceptible to heat sickness. 
  • People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat.

Resources

Spanish Language Resources

For more information, contact your Local Health Department.

Last Revised: June 2, 2017