Hot Weather and Health Impacts

Hot Weather and Health Impacts

woman holding a water bottle to her head on a hot, sunny day

Heat can cause serious illness. Heat illnesses can be deadly. On very hot days, sometimes your body temperature control systems can't keep up and your body temperature can get dangerously high. This makes you at greater risk for serious heat illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency. Dial 9-1-1 or get immediate medical help if you are concerned about your health or someone else's health when it's hot outside.

Know the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses
Find tips on how to stay safe when it's hot outside

العربية (Arabic) | စာမြန်မာ (Burmese) | 中文 (Chinese - simplified) | Français (French) | ကညီကျိ (Karen) Kirundi | नेपाली (Nepali) | Soomali (Somali) | Español (Spanish) | Swahili | Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

Find Somewhere to Cool off This Summer

Use the map below to find somewhere to take a break in air conditioning or splash in cool water. Please call the site before you go to confirm open hours and if there are entry fees. If you need more help finding or getting to a cooling site, please call 2-1-1. The map is showing indoor cooling centers only. We will add outdoor public access water sites to the map when water temperatures are safer. 

Are you aware of cooling sites that are not on the map? Please let us know

We'd like to hear from you! Let us know if this map is helpful or if you'd like to share your impressions about cooling sites. Give us your feedback

If the map is not loading, you can try opening it in a new window or see if it will load in a different web browser. If either works, you may need to clear your browser cache. Please let us know if you have problems loading the map.

Some people are at higher risk for heat illnesses

In general, risk for heat illnesses is greater for people with:

  • More exposure to hot conditions – especially outdoor workers and hobbyists, urban residents and people experiencing homelessness
  • More sensitivity to heat exposure – anyone not accustomed to hot weather, older adults and young children, people who are overweight or have a chronic medical condition (for example, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes), and people using recreational drugs, alcohol or some prescription medications
  • Limited resources – especially people who live alone, have limited transportation options, have no air conditioning or can’t afford to run their air conditioner

People who feel unwell or faint in hot weather are also at risk of serious or deadly falls.

People with chronic conditions may not show typical signs of heat illness, but rather worsened symptoms of their condition. If you or someone you know has a potentially dangerous chronic condition and begins to feel sick during a hot day, pay very close attention. Get immediate medical help if you have concerns about someone's condition.

Heat Safety Tips - How to stay safe when it's hot outside

NEVER leave children, people with disabilities or pets inside a parked vehicle when it's hot. The sun can turn a vehicle into an oven within minutes, even if it doesn’t feel hot outside.

Stay Cool

  • Stay in the shade, in air-conditioning if you can, or in cool places such as basements.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Take cool showers.
  • Use fans, but don't rely on them as the only way to stay cool.
  • Go to public buildings that are air-conditioned.
  • Sleep without sheets.
  • Avoid hot drinks and meals.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink more water than usual, especially if you're exercising or active outdoors.
  • Be proactive, don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water.
  • Don't drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.

Stay Informed

Listen to Your Body

  • Take it easy when it's hot.
  • Reduce outdoor work and exercise and limit it to the cooler parts of the day.
  • Ask for help if you feel sick.
  • Stop what you are doing if you feel faint or weak.
  • Be more cautious if you have a chronic health condition.

Don't be a Stranger

  • Call your loved ones and neighbors to check on them, especially if they are older or have chronic health conditions. 
  • Make sure they are drinking enough water and are staying cool.
  • Remind them to take heat seriously.

Cool Your Home

  • Draw light-colored shades to keep out the sun—dark-colored shades can be less effective.
  • Close windows during the day when it is hotter outside than inside.
  • Open windows at night when it's cooler outside than inside.
  • Use fans to blow in cooler outside air or vent out warmer inside air.
  • Limit use of the stove, oven and other heat-generating appliances.

Download a printable version of the Heat Safety Tips fact sheet

Preparing your home, community and worksite for hot weather

Modify your home for hot weather

  • Limit use of the stove, oven and other heat-generating appliances during hot weather.
  • Seal air leaks and increase insulation to keep buildings cooler in summer (and warmer in winter).
  • Plant trees and shrubs around buildings to increase summer shade and cooling breezes.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs that stay much cooler and save energy.
  • Install a heat pump or efficient air conditioner.
  • Learn more about ways to keep your home cool at Efficiency Vermont.

Prepare and protect your community

  • Create a community response plan that identifies protective actions to take on hot days.
  • Open a cooling center by following the community cooling center guidance.
  • Mobilize local care networks to check on people at high risk for heat illness.
  • Limit or cancel outdoor job, school or extracurricular activities, including athletic practices, games and other outdoor events.
  • Plant trees and shrubs, and reduce paved surfaces to keep urbanized areas cooler.
  • Promote energy-efficient building design, including use of cool roofs and pavements.

Keep outdoor workers safe

  • Develop a plan for protecting the safety of outdoor workers on hot days.
  • Provide water, rest and shade on hot days.
  • Use the Heat Safety Tool App to monitor local conditions. 
  • Learn more and find resources to help with planning, training, and education from VOSHA or NIOSH.
Learn more about heat impacts in Vermont and how to stay safe on hot days

Everyone is at risk for heat illnesses

Heat illnesses are a real danger, even here in our northern climate. Vermonters go to the emergency room for heat illnesses just as often as people in Maryland. Being young does not protect you from heat illness. In fact, Vermonters between the ages of 15 and 34 have a greater risk of going to the emergency room for a heat-related reason compared to adults aged 35 to 65.

Climate change will increase the number of dangerously hot days

Vermonters are at greater risk for serious heat-related illnesses, and even death, when the statewide average temperature reaches 87°F or hotter. Since 2000, Vermont has had an average of seven hot days per year when the temperature reached 87°F or hotter.

Climate models from the Vermont State Climate Office predict 15 to 20 hot days per year by mid-century, and 20 to 34 hot days per year by the end of the century. As the climate warms and there are more hot days, more heat illnesses and deaths will occur. Some of these impacts can be avoided by taking actions to prepare and adapt.

Learn more about hot weather impacts and adaptation strategies

Resource Description

Heat Illnesses and First Aid

Read about what to do if someone is experiencing heat illness symptoms.
Vermont Heat Vulnerability Index Maps The Index draws together 17 different measures of vulnerability in six different themes: population, socioeconomic, health, environmental, climate, and heat illness. These measures are combined to measure the overall vulnerability of Vermont towns to heat-related events.
Extreme Heat and Health Learn more from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention about how to stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed.
Climate Change and Heat Impacts on Health This fact sheet from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention talks about actions we can take to prepare for climate change and extreme heat events.
National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) Toolkit The NIHHIS is an integrated system and an interagency partnership with the goal to reduce morbidity and mortality due to extreme heat.
Heat Impacts on Health in Vermont This document details the association of summer temperatures with heat-related illness and mortality in Vermont.
Heat Vulnerability in Vermont This report provides a description of and rationale for the methods used to produce the Vermont Heat Vulnerability Index.
Vermont Heat Vulnerability Index This is a two-page summary description of the Vermont Heat Vulnerability Index.
Heat Safety Tips This fact sheet has steps you can take to keep yourself and your friends and family safe from heat.
Climate Change and Hot Weather This fact sheet describes the impacts climate change will have on the number of hot days in Vermont, what health impacts heat has on Vermonters, and adaptation strategies for individuals, communities, businesses, and other organizations.
Illness and Death Due to Hot and Cold Weather A data brief that illustrates the burden of heat-related versus cold-related illness and death in general, as well as in terms of whether or not the illness or death occurred at home.