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The City of New Orleans

Summer 2023 Excessive Heat

Extreme Heat

Extreme heat is dangerous because it can push your body temperature beyond its limits. If your body can’t cool itself fast enough, permanent damage or even death can occur. When there's a heat risk in New Orleans, the National Weather Service issues alerts. 

Heat Advisory: the forecasted heat index* is higher than 108°F or the forecasted temperature is higher than 103°F for 1 to 2 days

Excessive Heat Warning: the forecasted heat index is higher than 113°F or the forecasted temperature is higher than 105°F for at least 2 days

*Heat Index: how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to air temperature

During extreme heat

Stay cool

  • Stay inside in air conditioning.
  • Go to air-conditioned places like a library, NORDC rec center, or mall.
  • Stay out of the sun and wear a hat. Take breaks often.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors.
  • Don't leave your pets outside or in a car.

Stay hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks.
  • Remind others to drink water.

Stay informed

  • Stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Know the symptoms of heat illness.

Heat-related illnesses

Children under 4, adults over 65, and people who are overweight or ill are especially at risk of heat-related illnesses. Here’s how you can recognize heat-related illness and what you should do. 


What You Should Do

Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Weak pulse
  • Fainting and vomiting
  • Move to a cooler location.
  • Lie down and loosen your clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
  • Sip water.
  • If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat Stroke

  • High body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Hot, red, dry, or moist skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness 
  • Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
  • Move the person to a cooler environment.
  • Reduce the person's body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
  • Do NOT give fluids.

Plan for Seniors

People over age 65 are at higher risk for heat related illness. 

  • Stay in air-conditioned spaces. 

  • Wear light, loose fitting clothing made from breathable materials. 

  • Take cool showers.

  • Keep your windows covered. 

  • Rest.

  • Stay in contact with loved ones.

  • Seek medical care immediately if you begin showing symptoms of heat related illness.  

How to help an older adult in the heat 

  • Know what medications they take, and check if they can increase risk for heat related illness.  

  • Check in with them regularly, making sure they are somewhere cool and are staying hydrated.

  • Place fans close to walls to reduce risk of tripping over wires or extension cords.

  • Get medical care for them if they begin showing symptoms of heat-related illness. 

How to help someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s during extreme heat 

  • Make sure they are dressed appropriately for the weather.  

  • Make sure they stay hydrated; they may forget to drink enough water. Drinking water at the same time as them may help. 

  • Keep glasses of water within easy reach. Straws may also help if they have limited mobility.  

  • Eat high water content foods with them, such as ice pops, watermelon and cucumber. 

Plan for Children


  • If your baby is under 6 months old, do not give them water, but you can give additional formula or breastmilk to keep them hydrated.

  • If they are 6-12 months, they can have 4-6 oz of water per day along with breastmilk or formula. 

  • Make sure you stay hydrated as well, especially if you are breastfeeding. 

  • Signs of dehydration in infants:

  • Fewer wet diapers 

  • Dry, cool skin 

  • Irritability 

  • Sunken fontanelle (soft spot on top of the baby’s head).  

  • Rehydrate with breastmilk or formula. If symptoms continue, contact a doctor immediately.  


  • Do not leave children unattended in heat.

  • Play indoor games and activities.

  • Always check your backseat for passengers before getting out of your car.  

Plan for Pets

  • Protect them from overheating by limiting their exercise while the heat advisory is in effect. Take dogs for shorter walks, and avoid the hottest parts of the day by walking them early in the morning or in the evening. Bring water and a bowl with you on walks.  

  • Asphalt can get very hot. If it’s too hot for you to touch comfortably, it’s probably unsafe for your pet to walk on. If you must bring them outside, keep them on grass as much as possible. Dog shoes or socks can also help protect your pet’s paws from being burnt.  

  • Put ice in your dog or cat’s water bowl to help them cool off, or give them frozen broth as a treat.  

  • Certain breeds may be at especially high risk for heat related illness, such as those with flat faces or long coats. Take special care to keep them cool. Brushing may help pets with long, thick coats, but do not shave your pet, their coat’s layers help protect them from sunburn and overheating.  

  • If your pet starts showing symptoms of heatstroke, such as:  

    • Excessive panting and drooling 

    • Red gums or tongue 

    • Increased heart rate 

    • Vomiting or diarrhea 

  •  Pour cool water over them and contact a veterinarian right away.

Extreme heat is affecting millions across the world, taking an extra toll on healthcare and medications.

Some medications can raise your body temperature, make you more sensitive to the sun, or make you more prone to dehydration. In other instances, heat can make medications less effective or more harmful.

extreme heat is impacting reproductive health care, making birth control, emergency contraception, condoms, and pregnancy tests less effective.

Heat damage isn't always visible but can include changed smell, hardness, and color of medication.  Store contraceptives out of heat, direct sunlight, and moisture to help prevent damage.

Extreme heat can worsen the negative side effects of several psychiatric medications, particularly for those who take lithium or antidepressants.

For those who take lithium, extreme sweating can cause the medication to concentrate in toxic levels, which can sometimes prove deadly.  Several antidepressants can increase chances of heat stroke because they can either make you sweat too much or too little.


Tips for storing medications:

  • Keep your medications within a range of 59-86 degrees.
  • Keep refrigerated medications in the range of 0 to 59 degrees.
  • NEVER leave your medicine in your car.
  • Do not store your medication in your bathroom, which can get too humid.

Medications That Can Cause Heat Intolerance

Take additional precautions to stay cool if you take:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antihistamines
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Beta blockers
  • Psychiatric medications
  • Stimulant medications
  • Triptans
  • Thyroid medication

Medications That Can Cause Dehydration

Some medicines, such as certain antipsychotics, can reduce your ability to feel thirsty. It may help to set reminders to drink water.


Drink extra water, even if you are not thirsty, if you take:

  • Antihistamines
  • Chemotherapy
  • Diuretics
  • Excedrin
  • Laxatives

Medications That Can Cause Skin Sensitivity

While sunscreen is always a good idea, it is especially important if you take medications that make your skin more sensitive. These include:

  • Acne medication
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungals
  • Birth control
  • Diuretics
  • Cholesterol medications
  • Phenothiazines