Extreme Heat

Dickinson County is no stranger to extreme temperatures and that includes summertime heat. Couple the temperature with the humidity, and it can feel downright miserable. The heat can also be dangerous if you don't follow a few simple steps. Remember:

  • Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning.
  • Older adults, children and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat.
  • Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.


Heat Wave
A heat wave is a period of abnormally hot weather generally lasting more than two days. Heat waves can occur with or without high humidity. They have potential to cover a large area, exposing a high number of people to hazardous heat.

Heat Advisory
A Heat Advisory is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Advisory is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 100ยฐ or higher for at least 2 days, and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75ยฐ. If you don't take precautions, you may become seriously ill or even die.

Excessive Heatย Watch
Be Prepared!ย Heat watches are issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain.

Excessive Heatย Warning
An Excessive Heat Warning is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Warning is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 105ยฐ or higher for at least 2 days and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75ยฐ. If you don't take precautions immediately when conditions are extreme, you may become seriously ill or even die.


Try to keep your home cool:

  • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
  • Cover windows with drapes or shades.
  • Weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Use window reflectors such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard to reflect heat back outside.
  • Add insulation to keep the heat out.
  • Use a powered attic ventilator, or attic fan, to regulate the heat level of a buildingโ€™s attic by clearing hot air.
  • Install window air conditioners and insulate around them.
  • Learn to recognize the signs of heat illness. For more information visit: www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html

During a Heat Wave

  • Never leave a child, adult, or animal alone inside a vehicle on a warm day.
  • Find places with air conditioning. Libraries, shopping malls, and community centers can be a cool place to beat the heat. Stay informed and check with local authorities about possible closures prior to going to cooling centers.
  • If air conditioning is not available in your home:
    • Spend some time at a shopping mall or public library- even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help.
    • Take cool showers or baths.
    • Donโ€™t rely solely on fans to keep you cool. While electric fans might provide some comfort, when temperatures are really hot, they wonโ€™t prevent heat-related illness.
    • Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.
  • If youโ€™re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you or someone you care for is on a special diet, ask a doctor what would be best.
  • Do not use electric fans when the temperature outside is more than 95 degrees. You could increase the risk of heat-related illness. Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but do not reduce body temperature.
  • Avoid high-energy activities outdoors. Avoid working outdoors during the midday heat, if possible.
  • Check yourself, family members, and neighbors for signs of heat-related illness.
  • Engage with your friends and neighbors through video and phone calls. Know that itโ€™s normal to feel anxious or stressed. Take care of your body and talk to someone if you are feeling upset.

Recognize and Respond

Know the signs of heat-related illnesses and ways to respond. At-risk populations for both heat-related illness include older individuals and those with underlying health conditions. Know how to protect individuals especially at risk from extreme heat events.

If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1. If you are at a shelter or public facility, alert shelter staff right away so they can call a local hospital or clinic.



  • Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs


  • Go to a cooler location
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Take sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar
  • If you are sick and need medical attention, call your healthcare provider first
  • Follow your healthcare providerโ€™s instructions about whether you should go to the hospital or cooler location yourself
  • If cramps last more than an hour, seek medical attention



  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Excessive sweating
  • Cool, pale, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Muscle cramps


  • Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down
  • Loosen or remove clothing
  • Take a cool bath
  • Drink water if fully conscious
  • Call your healthcare provider if symptoms get worse or last more than an hour



  • Throbbing headache
  • No sweating
  • Body temperature above 103ยฐ
  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • May lose consciousness


  • Call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital immediately
  • Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives


Michael Ehret
Dickinson County Courthouse
1802 Hill Ave, Ste B103
ย  Spirit Lake, IA 51360
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