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When you fail to take steps to keep your cool, a hot day can become a dangerous one.

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion, can lead to sickness or even death if they’re not addressed.

When you’re exercising or working outdoors on hot days, take these steps to protect yourself:

Avoid heavy exertion in the heat. Try not to work in areas where you’re exposed to the sun. Adjust your schedule so you’re doing the heaviest work during the coolest parts of the day.

Wear clothing that is light-colored, breathable, and loose-fitting. Cotton is a good fabric choice. Leave non-breathable synthetic clothing in the closet. If you need to wear protective clothing for your job, be aware that it could increase your risk for heat-related illnesses.

Take more breaks. Rest in a shaded area or air-conditioned building.

Drink lots of water. When working in the heat, drink a cup of water every 20 minutes. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more.

Stop all activity if you don’t feel well. Get to a cool place if you feel faint or weak.

Take action when signs of heat-related illness appear

Heat crampsMuscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs Stop all activity
Sit in a cool place
Drink water or a sports beverage
Do not return to strenuous work for a few hours after cramps subside
Seek medical attention if you have heart problems or are on a low-sodium diet, or if the cramps do not subside within one hour
Heat exhaustionHeavy sweating
Fast, weak pulse
Cold, pale, clammy skin
Tiredness, weakness
Muscle cramps
Nausea, vomiting
Rest in a cool area
Drink water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages
Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
Heat strokeHigh body temperature
Hot, dry, or damp skin
Fast, strong pulse
Dizziness, nausea
Throbbing headache
Loss of consciousness
Ask for medical help
Get the person to a cool, shaded area
Take off excess clothing
Apply cool water to the body