ST. LOUIS – The summer heat in St. Louis can be uncomfortable and, if not properly prepared for, downright dangerous. The best defense against overheating and any heat-related illness is prevention.

Here are some tips to help keep you cool and safe during the remaining summer months:

Cooling Centers around town:

If you're AC is out or that energy bill is just too high, cooling centers are open around the St. Louis metro area. Find one close to you here.

Take breaks:

If you're going to be outside in the heat, you should protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen and resting in shady areas, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In extreme heat, use the buddy system and try to limit your time spent outdoors to morning and evening hours.

Photos: Families cool off at the City Garden

Check on each other:

Anyone can suffer from a heat-related illness, but some are at a greater risk than others. Infants, young children and anyone over the age of 65 are more susceptible to the heat. Be a Good Samaritan and check on your elderly neighbors.

When the temperature is in the 90s, air conditioning is critical. Fans alone will not prevent heat-related illness, according to the CDC.

Related: Hot car deaths can happen even on cool days

If your home doesn't have air conditioning, spend a few hours at the library, pool or an air conditioned store. You can also call the Health Department to find any heat relief shelters in the area.

Related: How to save energy and still beat the summer heat

Stay hydrated:

Regardless of what you're doing, it's important to stay hydrated. If you wait until you're thirsty to drink fluids, you're already dehydrated. You should avoid alcohol, sugary drinks and caffeine, all of which can dehydrate you.

If you are properly hydrated, your urine should be clear, pale or a light color. If it's dark, drink more water!

NOTE: If you take water pills or have to limit your fluid intake, consult your doctor on how much you should drink while the weather is hot.

Don't forget your pets:

Your pets need to stay safe, too! Make sure they have fresh water and plenty of it; the best idea is to keep them inside. Beware of hot surfaces and asphalt which could be harmful for your animals to walk on in extreme heat.

Photos: How do you beat the summer heat?

Watch what you wear:

Wearing loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing will help keep you cool. Darker colors soak up the sun and heat.

The symptoms of heat-related illness:

Heat cramps are muscle pains that typically occur in the legs or abdomen and are often an early sign of the body struggling to keep cool, according the Red Cross.

To treat heat cramps, move to a cooler place and lightly stretch the affected muscles. Drink electrolyte-containing liquids, such as Gatorade, fruit juice or milk, in addition to water.

Heat cramps can be a symptom of heat exhaustion, which can develop when a person is exposed to high temperatures for several days without an adequate, or balanced, supply of fluids.

The symptoms include:

  • Heavy Sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fast and weak pulse
  • Fast and shallow breathing
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, you should:

  • Move them to a cooler area
  • Remove or loosen tight clothing
  • Spray water on them or take a cool shower or bath
  • Give them small amounts of cool water.
  • If the person refuses the water, throws up, or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1

If left untreated, heat exhaustion may develop into heat stroke. According to the Red Cross, heat stroke, also known as sunstroke, is life-threatening and occurs when the body's temperature control system stops working and cannot cool itself.

Symptoms include:

  • High body temperature
  • Red skin
  • A rapid, weak pulse
  • Shallow breathing
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Changes in consciousness

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, you should:

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately
  • Cool the body by immersing, or spraying, the person cold water
  • Cover the person in ice

Information came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Red Cross, and USA Today.