Atlanta's peak heat period, when the city should experience its hottest annual temperatures, begins July 16 and ends July 20, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Heat-related illnesses cause more than 600 deaths ever year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and 28,000 people were hospitalized for such illnesses from 2001 to 2010.
The federal government recommends the following, to stay safe and cool in the heat:
• Spend time in locations with air conditioning.
• Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, including water and diluted sports drinks.
• Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
• Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen and hats with brims.
If you see someone suffering from a heat-related illness, have them lie down in a cool location, and apply cool, wet cloths to their body while they sip non-alcoholic fluids.
Symptoms of heat-related illnesses include:
• Heavy sweating
• Cold, pale, clammy skin
• Fast and weak pulse
• Nausea or vomiting
• Muscle cramps
• Heat rash
• Fainting or near-fainting
The most severe related illness, according to the government, is heat stroke.
Signs of suffering include:
• Body temperature more than 103 degrees Fahrenheit
• Hot, red, dry or moist skin
• Rapid and strong pulse
• An "altered mental status," ranging from confusion to agitation to unconsciousness.
After calling 911, immediate treatments include moving the person to a cool environment, and applying cloths soaked in ice water to the head, neck, arm pits and upper legs near the groin. If possible, a cool bath is preferred. Do not give them fluids.
The government also recommends checking on neighbors during extreme temperatures.
Increased air conditioning use can cause power outages by overwhelming power grids, leaving people vulnerable if they rely on medical devices such as oxygen concentrators.