Washington, DC - Extreme weather in the summer can include soaring temperatures, thunderstorms, and dry conditions. Extreme weather poses serious health risks, causing illnesses, injuries and sometimes death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention works to reduce these risks and protect the public’s health.

Visit CDC's website for more information about preparing for, responding to, and recovering from potential hurricanes, extreme heat, wildfires, and other natural disasters and severe weather this summer.

Extreme Heat

People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to properly cool themselves. Older adults, young children, and people with chronic medical conditions are at high risk for heat-related illness and death. From 1999 to 2010, a total of 7,415 people died of heat-related deaths in the United States, an average of about 618 deaths a year.

Warmer temperatures can mean higher ozone levels. Pay attention to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index when planning outdoor summer activities, especially if you have asthma or another lung disease.

Track extreme heat in your area. The CDC’s Tracking Network provides information you can use to protect yourself from extreme heat. The network contains U.S. data on heat-related deaths and illnesses from 27 states. You can use it to see if heat-related deaths and illnesses are rising or declining in your state or county.

When temperatures are extremely high, take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, visit a shopping mall or public library for a few hours or call your local health department to find any heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
  • Visit older adults or others at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Summer Storms

Thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes pose health hazards including downed trees, power outages, tornadoes, and flooding. Be safe and plan ahead. Take steps to protect yourself and your family.

  • If you’re under a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning, prepare for the storm.
  • Follow lightning safety tips. The risk of being struck is low but the consequences of lightning strike injuries are serious.
  • Be ready for flooding that comes with summer storms, and never walk or drive through floodwater.
  • Protect your family from tornadoes.
  • Stay safe after a storm by preventing injuries and carbon monoxide poisoning.


Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

If wildfires are burning in your area, or if winds blow wildfire smoke into your area, limit your exposure to the smoke. Take simple precautions to protect your health:

  • Listen for advice from local authorities and follow their instructions.
  • Limit indoor air pollution--avoid burning candles, using gas stoves or vacuuming.
  • Do not rely solely on face masks. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke.
  • If you have asthma or other lung conditions, follow your respiratory management plan.
  • See a doctor if you have a hard time breathing.