An area is said to be experiencing a heatwave when temperatures are above normal for the region for at least four days in a row. Heatwaves are often accompanied by higher than normal humidity levels. It’s important to know what steps to take when heat becomes deadly.
- If possible, remain in air-conditioned buildings. Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
- Cover windows that receive morning and afternoon direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause a rise in your indoor temperature, by covering with drapes, shades/blinds and awnings, it can reduce the heat by up to 8 percent.
- Limit outdoor activity, especially during midday when it is hottest, and avoid direct sunlight. When outside, wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Carry enough water with you at all times.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you are thirsty. Drink two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside.
- Take cool showers or baths to lower your body temperature.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine and liquids like sugary sodas containing a high amount of sugar, which can dehydrate you.
- Monitor local weather reports for extreme heat warnings.
- Never leave people or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.
- Learn the symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke, and how to respond.
- Pets can suffer heat related problems also. Bring your pet indoors if possible. Make sure they have plenty of shade and clean water.
Know the Symptoms of Excessive Heat on Your Body
- Heat Cramps: the least severe of heat related problems, heat cramps are muscular pains or spasms that are a result of over exertion. Take this as a warning and cool down.
- Heat Exhaustion: is caused by exercising or working heavily in a hot, humid place causing the loss of bodily fluids through heavy sweating. This means the blood flow to the skin increases and the blood flow to the organs decreases. This can cause the body temperature to continue rising and can lead to stroke if left untreated. Heat Exhaustion is a form of shock, so find a cooler place to bring down the body’s temperature and hydrate with plenty of water.
- Heatstroke (Sunstroke): the most severe of heat related problems, heatstroke is where the body stops producing sweat which in turn stops cooling the body. The persons temperature continues to rise and can cause brain damage and even death if not treated immediately. Get the victim to a cooler place and try to bring down their temperature. Call for emergency treatment.
When the Power Goes Out
Heatwaves can cause widespread outages when power systems are overloaded with too many people running their air conditioners. Being prepared and conserving energy during summer heatwaves can make life more comfortable. Simple things like covering windows, limiting your use of appliances especially large TVs, doing laundry or dishes at off-peak hours, and setting your thermostat to 78 or higher can help conserve power.
Check to see if your local movie theater, restaurant or shopping mall has power. These indoor facilities usually maintain a cooler temperature. Some communities may have shelters set up as cooling stations also.
Keep emergency supplies ready:
- Flashlights instead of candles. Extra batteries.
- Portable, battery-powered radio and clock
- At least three days supply of water and non-perishable foods. One gallon of water per person per day. Include your pets and their needs also.
- Make sure your cellphone is charged at all times, so you’ll be ready if the power does go out. Know how to text if calls cannot go through.
- Unplug appliances, televisions, computers, etc. if not on surge protectors. Surges and spikes from outages can damage these items.
- If you have a generator, make sure it is ready for use at any time. Never run generators in a closed area like a garage or inside your home or building.
- If you have elderly or disabled neighbors, check on them to see if they may need help.