Hot temperatures outside can lead to potential health concerns due to elevated temperatures inside. Since many correctional facilities do not have air conditioning, correctional officers and inmates should be provided with steps that can help reduce the risk of heat-related illness when indoor temperatures become a concern. Recognizing that different facilities have different limitations, operational considerations and building design, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Environmental Health offers guidance for preventing, identifying, and treating heat related illness. Of these, providing drinking water and maximizing the building’s designed ventilation are within the reach of each facility and are regulatory requirements.
- Drinking water, including bottled water if necessary, should always be accessible to maintain hydration.
- Ice should be made available as needed.
- Ensure proper utilization of existing mechanical or natural ventilation design/systems.
- Fans should be provided in areas that may not have adequate ventilation.
- Inmates should have increased opportunity to shower.
- Windows that get late morning and/or afternoon sun should be tinted.
- Access to the lowest floor and open common areas should be made available.
- Additional outdoor recreational time for inmates should be provided if shaded areas are present.
- Priority housing (in cooler areas) should be made available for heat sensitive, at- risk, or newer inmates who may be less familiar with, or acclimated to, the facility.
- Correctional officers should be provided additional breaks and options to wear lighter uniforms.
- Priority locations in cooler areas should be made available for new correctional officers who may be less familiar with, or acclimated to, the facility.
- Training should be provided for correctional officers about the signs, symptoms and increased risk factors for heat related illness, e.g., old age, obesity, hypertension, asthma, mental illness, and medication use.
Heat related illnesses include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Listed below are further details on the signs and symptoms of each, and what you should do if you see someone in distress from the heat. Additional information is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html