In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity. Generally temperatures are 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region during summer months, last for a long period of time and occur with high humidity as well. Know the difference Excessive Heat Watch Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours. Excessive Heat Warning Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least two days (daytime highs = 105-110° Fahrenheit). Heat Advisory Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for one to two days (daytime highs = 100-105° Fahrenheit). How to prepare The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined. Exposure to direct sunlight can increase the heat index by as much as 15° F. Check the contents of your emergency preparedness kit in case a power outage occurs. Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They may need help. If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls). Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies. Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met. What should I do? Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Eat small meals and eat more often. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. Postpone outdoor activities. Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat. Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. For more information on disaster and emergency preparedness, visit www.RedCross.org.