Overview Anchor


Extreme heat can harm health in many ways: it can cause heat-related illness, worsen existing conditions, and increase risk for adverse outcomes. This site provides public health guidance and recommendations for the Georgetown University community during periods of extreme heat. 

For more information on heat emergencies, please follow updates from the National Weather Service and the DC Government. In addition, you can receive alerts and information from the DC Government by signing up for Alert DC.

Back to Top
Heat and Your Health Anchor

Heat and Your Health

According to the CDC: “Heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke, happen when the body is not able to properly cool itself. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, during extreme heat this might not be enough. In these cases, a person’s body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down. This can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs.” 

Individuals at high risk include older adults, babies and children, and those with chronic health problems. Young and healthy individuals can also be affected if they engage in strenuous physical activities during very hot weather (e.g., running, athletic practice, outdoor work such as construction).

Back to Top
Tips for Staying Safe in the Heat Anchor

Tips for Staying Safe in the Heat

  • Monitor the heat index. The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels outside, based on temperature and humidity. Monitor the forecast via TV, radio, or an app like the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool. Pay close attention to heat advisories. Consider limiting outdoor activity during high heat index days. 
  • Know your personal risk factors, such as age, pregnancy, chronic conditions or medications. Talk to your doctor about precautions you can take. 
  • Plan your outdoor activities early in the day, while temperatures are cooler. 
  • Limit time outdoors (duration and timing) and stay in cool, shaded areas, or indoors, as much as possible. 
  • Hydrate before you will be outdoors in the heat. Drink water frequently throughout the day, before you get thirsty (do not exceed 6 8-ounce cups – or a total of 48 ounces – per hour). A sports drink can help replenish salts and minerals lost while sweating. Avoid drinking alcohol and sugary drinks. 
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothes; wear a hat when outdoors.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen when spending time outside to prevent sunburn. 
  • Never leave young children and pets unattended in vehicles. Car interiors can reach deadly temperatures in a matter of minutes during hot or warm weather. 
  • Keep in mind that alcohol and some prescription and recreational drugs can worsen the effect of heat.
  • If you don’t have access to air conditioning, check out the DC cooling shelters and associated transportation information.

Extreme heat is an environmental and occupational health hazard. Employees who regularly work outdoors, and their supervisors, receive specialized training on the Office of Environmental Health and Safety’s Heat Stress Plan, following regulatory guidelines. Employees should follow specific guidance from their supervisors, including implementing appropriate work/rest schedules on extreme heat days. Please visit the EH&S website 

Back to Top
Heat Index
Effect on the body
Caution80°F – 90°FFatigue possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity
Extreme Caution90°F – 103°FHeat stroke, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity
Danger103°F – 124°FHeat cramps or heat exhaustion likely, and heat stroke possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity
Extreme Danger125°F or higherHeat stroke highly likely
Heat-Related Symptoms and Illnesses Anchor

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. Be mindful of any heat-related symptoms. It is best to respond as soon as you notice any symptom(s) – seek cool shelter and hydrate as symptoms can progress quickly. Danger signs include high body temperature (103℉ or higher), heavy sweating, fast or weak pulse, headache, nausea, dizziness and confusion.

Back to Top
What to do
Early – Heat CrampsMuscle pain, spasms, or crampsSeek shelter in a cool place. 
Stop physical activity. 
Hydrate with water or sports beverages.
*Seek medical care if cramps persist or you have underlying medical problems.
Heat ExhaustionSkin cool or clammy
Fast heart rate
Nausea or vomiting
Feeling weak
Feeling light-headed/dizzy
Loss of consciousness/passing out
Seek shelter in a cool place. 
Stop physical activity. 
Hydrate gently to avoid vomiting. 
Cool your body with wet/cool clothes or shower/bath.
*Seek medical care if you are unable to keep down fluids, if symptoms worsen or persist.
Late Danger Signs – Heat StrokeHigh fever (over 103F)
No longer sweating
Skin feels hot
Heart is racing
Lightheaded or dizzy
Loss of consciousness/passing out
Call GUPD/GERMS immediately at (202) 687-4343 if on campus, or 911 if off campus. 
Help the person move to a cool, shaded area.
Cool the body with wet/cool cloths and water until help arrives.
Do not provide water unless under medical supervision.

Adapted from CDC Guidance – original available at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Where to Seek Medical Care Anchor

Where to Seek Medical Care

Individuals who experience moderate-severe or persistent symptoms should contact the Student Health Center at 202-687-2200, if a student, or their health care provider if an employee or visitor. In a medical emergency, if on campus, call GUPD/GERMS at (202) 687-4343; if off campus, call 911.

Back to Top
Contact Anchor


If you have any concerns or questions please reach out to the Public Health team at publichealth@georgetown.edu, or to Environmental Health & Safety at gu-ehs@georgetown.edu

Back to Top
Resources Anchor


Back to Top