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Staying Safe in Extreme Heat

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

CONTACT: Phyllis Jones—(202) 631-3077; [email protected]

(Washington, DC)— On Wednesday, July 12, 2017 the DC Department of Behavioral Health released an infographic that shares the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke with residents. 

DBH is reminding residents taking psychotropic medications to drink plenty of fluids and avoid direct exposure to high temperatures for longer than two hours as certain medications can affect the body's response to heat and put them at risk for a heat-related illness or death.

“Heat-related illness or death is preventable,” says DBH Director Tanya A. Royster, MD. "We know that some people taking psychotropic medications suffer from chronic illinesses, such as heart disease, obesity or high blood pressure, which increases their risk".

DBH also is monitoring every certified residential facility to gauge its preparations for the heat, such as an adequate water supply and functioning air conditioners. Also, each operator must submit a relocation plan for its residents in the event of loss of air conditioning or power.

When the temperature or heat index reaches 95 degrees in the District, the District Government activates cooling centers. Click here for locations or call the Mayor's Citywide Call Center by dialing 311.

The Department of Behavioral Health encourages residents, especially those who take prescription medication, to follow simple precautions that can lessen the risk of heat-related illness or death:

  • Avoid hot foods and heavy meals which add heat to your body.
  • Drink plenty of fluids no matter your activity level. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Avoid liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar because they cause you to lose more body fluid.
  • Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours; wear sunscreen with 30 SPF of higher.
  • Never leave children or pets in vehicles
  • Use a buddy system. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you know someone 65 years of age or older, check on them at least twice a day. If you are in this age group, have a friend or relative call you twice a day during a heat wave.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen.

About DBH: DBH provides both mental health and substance use disorder services for District residents through community based providers located across the District. Please call 1-888-7WE-HELP (1-888-793-4357) any time to talk to a counselor for help or more information.

Social Media: 

Department of Behavioral Health: Twitter: @DBHforRecovery