Heat Safety Considerations for People with Access and Functional Needs


As temperatures continue to increase, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) wants Californians to stay safe from the heat this summer.

Some populations are at a higher risk for heat related illnesses, including people with access and functional needs (AFN) like people with disabilities, older adults, children, limited English proficiency and transportation disadvantaged. Here are a few tips and considerations to stay safe from heat and reduce health risks:



Check your weather forecasts and heat advisories to know when heat events will happen and how long it’s expected to last. Create a heat plan and share it with others to stay safe during an extreme heat event.


Visit a local cooling center or public air-conditioned space such as a library, community center, or shopping center. If you’re unable to travel to or find an air-conditioned space, consider the following at home:

  • Close windows, doors, shades, and curtains to prevent hot air and sunlight from entering your home during high heat days.
  • Place a cool damp towel on the back of your neck and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Use cool compresses and take a cool shower or bath to help reduce body temperature and provide relief from the heat.


Identify individuals in your life such as family, friends, and neighbors, who could help support you and check in on you during heat events. 

Remember, creating an emergency preparedness plan based on your personal needs is critical to ensure you and your loved ones remain safe during an emergency.


Sign up for emergency alerts with your county or local officials. You can choose how to get alerts sent to you when you sign up, including cell phone, home phone, email, text messages, and in some cases, TTY devices.

Sign up for a medical baseline program, an assistance program for people who depend on power for certain medical needs. Participation is important to ensure you receive additional notification of upcoming or current power shutoff events which may occur during extreme heat events.


Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to see if any of your medications affect your body’s ability to regulate temperature. Before an emergency, organize and protect your prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine and vitamins.

Heat Ready California shares some health complications that can result from exposure to extreme heat include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Neurological conditions
  • Mental health conditions

Warning: If your doctor limits the amount of fluid you drink, or if you take water pills, ask him or her how much you should drink when the weather is hot. If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.


Heat stroke symptoms can include high body temperature, dizziness, rapid heart rate, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Call 9-1-1. Heat exhaustions signs include sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and headache. Move to a cool place and get medical help if symptoms get worse or last longer than one hour.


Additional Resources and Tools

Listos California: has resources to help you and others stay cool in extreme heat.

HeatReadyCa.com: has resources to help you be prepared for heat and includes additional information for people who are at a higher risk for heat related illnesses.

National Weather Service: allows you to monitor the weather forecast in your area by zip code.

Emergency preparedness for people with disabilities – Pacific ADA Center (adapacific.org) 

People with Disabilities | Ready.gov