Heat Waves

The First Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability (FTAAAD), in conjunction with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and other First Tennessee area service agencies, has put together a disaster preparedness guide specifically for Tennesseans age 60 and older. 

Tennessee residents know that the state offers the full range of weather. We are almost guaranteed a heat wave once each year. What can be inconvenient or uncomfortable for some can be deadly for others.


  • Choose the coolest place in your dwelling to spend the warmest time of the day.
  • If your home is too hot, find somewhere else to go close to home. Choose other places, like a public library or community center, that offer relief from the heat during the warmest time of the day.
  • Avoid strenuous activities during the warmest time of the day.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Learn about any reactions that might occur with regard to prescription medications and excessive heat.
  • If your dwelling is cool, stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies because other liquids, like alcohol and caffeinated drinks, can actually cause you to lose fluid.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.

How Hot Is Too Hot?

Heat Exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating (can result in the form of a mild stroke).  If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke.

Heat Stroke is life-threatening.  The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working.  The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

Sunstroke is another term for heat stroke.

How to Recover

Treatment for heat exhaustion involves getting the victim out of the heat. Apply cool cloths and have the person drink cool water slowly.

Treatment for heat stroke starts with a 911 call. Move the person to a cool place, immerse them in a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around the body.  Watch for breathing problems.