Extreme heat resources for facilities


Mitigation actions

All healthcare providers and agencies should include heat-specific planning in their emergency plans to ensure the health and safety of everyone inside their facilities. If your health facility or agency is anticipating or experiencing a high-risk-level extreme heat event, follow this guidance.


General guidelines

  • Identify HVAC system and air conditioner limitations with engineering and facility staff, identify backup systems, or contract for additional cooling capabilities. Don’t wait until an extreme heat event to check your systems.
  • Analyze additional critical systems that high temperatures may impact, including communications and IT systems.
  • Share prevention and emergency guidelines with staff to increase overall effectiveness. 
  • Enhance strategies for supporting the most at-risk clients, residents, and patients.
  • Review evacuation planning in case of power loss or HVAC malfunction.
  • Use a NOAA Weather Radio and refer to the National Weather Service’s Heat Forecast and Tools to maintain awareness of heat risk forecasts during the summer months.
  • Maintain an inventory of critical supplies, such as ice and fuel, and plan to expand capabilities rapidly. 
  • Encourage staff to review their personal and home emergency preparedness plans for extreme heat.

Residential facilities

  • Consult your facility’s emergency plan.
  • Notify engineering and facility staff as early as possible of additional power needs.
  • Review evacuation plans and prepare staff in case of power outages or cooling system failure. Also, make sure your transportation is in good working order.
  • Monitor indoor temperatures. Cover windows by closing drapes and shades. Increase the frequency of patient observations, especially those at high risk. 
  • Train your staff on identifying the signs of heat-related illness and how to respond.
  • Monitor the weather and heat index using the National Weather Service’s Heat Forecast and Tools.
  • Create specific cooling areas within your building during power loss or cooling system failure. If you are in a high-rise building, prepare to move individuals from top floors to lower floors (remember, heat rises).
  • Implement strategies to mitigate extreme heat health impacts on patients, residents, and staff by increasing opportunities for hydration and cooling, canceling outdoor activities, ensuring frequent breaks, and shifting schedules to minimize exposure to midday and evening heat. 
  • Conserve supplies, such as ice and fuel, based on anticipated or current shortages.
  • Keep medications cool. During a power outage, place medications that require refrigeration  in an ice chest or cooler packed with ice, cooling bricks, or cold packs. Use a thermometer to monitor medication temperatures to ensure they're safe to use. Avoid freezing medication by making sure it does not directly touch the ice.
  • Properly prepare meals with high water content and discard spoiled food.
  • Understand the potential side effects of medications, carefully review the drugs that at-risk patients are taking, and consult with a physician to consider optimal doses during hot weather.
  • Take appropriate steps to care for clients, residents, and patients who experience heat-related illness, including fluids, cooling, fanning, observation, and, if necessary, transfer to the emergency department or hospital.
  • Notify the Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division to report an unusual occurrence, activation of your Emergency Operations Plan, or if you are evacuating your location.


  • When the forecast shows that temperatures will be high-risk or very-high risk for most of the population, check in with key partners, begin staffing preparations, and alert relevant leadership regarding immediate or anticipated activation of the emergency operations and coordination center.
  • Consider potential heat and humidity impacts in operating rooms. Reschedule surgeries as necessary.
  • Consider accelerating discharges by reviewing patients ready for or awaiting discharge.

Home health providers and patients living independently

  • Develop plans with clients, patients, and their families for safe home care in the heat, including redundant plans for keeping loved ones cool if they experience power outages and how to store medications that require refrigeration.
  • Clients and patients who rely on durable electrical medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks, nebulizers, CPAP/BiPAP machines, and motorized wheelchairs, are more at risk during power outages. Include plans for continuing to use their medical devices during a power outage. This action is particularly important for those living in small, non-air-conditioned public housing units under older building codes. 
  • During extreme heat events, check in on clients and patients. Many residents are older and may take medications that put them at higher risk.
  • Identify cooling centers, an essential resource during extreme heat events and especially critical for people experiencing homelessness or those without adequate cooling in their homes. In Colorado: 
    • Contact local 2-1-1 for assistance and referrals to cooling centers.
    • Check local news sources about the openings of select cooling centers.

Additional resources