DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES
PO BOX 360
TRENTON, N.J. 08625-0360
July 16, 2013
Excessive Heat Warning Recommendations for EMS
Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable yet annually many people succumb to extreme
heat. Historically, from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States.
Because heat-related deaths are preventable, people need to be aware of who is at greatest risk and
what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death. The elderly, the very young, and
people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy
individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
To lower the risk of exacerbating patient conditions please ensure the following:
Medication and Fluid Storage
• If you vehicle carries any medications, ensure that they are stored so as to ensure that each
medication meets its respective manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance of that
medication or solution efficacy. This may require some medications to be rotated off the vehicle
sooner than your normal schedule.
• Try to keep medications/IV solutions, etc. in a climate controlled environment whenever possible
• Ensure vehicles have properly working air-conditioning in both the crew and patient compartment.
• Check and top off fluids at shift change
• Ensure coolant mixture is in accordance with manufacturers guidelines
• Minimize vehicle running time
• Keep vehicle hood closed while the engine is running to ensure proper airflow through the
radiator ( this will help prevent overheat)
• Cool the exterior of the vehicle with water whenever possible to lower exterior temperatures
• Be aware that patients may be in direct contact with heated metal such as metal components of
the stretcher, splints, strap buckles, etc.
MARY E. O’DOWD, M.P.H.
To lower the risk of heat related illness and protect your health when temperatures are extremely
high, remember to:
• Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to
• Avoid liquids containing large amounts of sugar or caffeine.
• Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package whenever extended outside activity is
• Wear a brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing (consider relaxing uniform
policies to conform to safety requirements but offer relief from the heat).
• Encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water (consider shorter shift lengths to
permit rotation of staff).
• Postpone any non-essential outside activity.
• Consider checking in on patients who frequently utilize your EMS service.
• Seek medical care immediately if you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness.
• Sign up to receive free weather alerts to your phone or e-mail
For more information regarding signs and symptoms of health exhaustion or stroke please go to
http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html. If you should have any further questions please contact
the Office of Emergency Medical Services at (609) 633-7777.