Summer is quickly approaching and with that, the heat. Residents of California are more than familiar with the yearly heat and the risks that comes with it. California experienced multiple heat waves, along with wildfires, all throughout the hotter months of the year 2020. It’s important to take steps to stay safe during hot weather. Continue reading for tips on how to prepare for eminent heatwaves this year.
What are heat waves?
A heat wave is a period of unusually high temperatures for a region. They typically last for 2-3days though record show they often last longer. Heat waves usually happen when there is high pressure in the atmosphere that prevents ground air from rising. The sinking air acts likes a cap which traps hot ground air in place. Young children, the elderly, individuals with illnesses, and pets are especially vulnerable to high heat.
Heat-related deaths rank in as the top weather-related killer. More than lightning, tornados, and hurricanes combined. It’s estimated that more than 1,300 extreme heat-related deaths occur every year. 90% of death occur during the summer months (May through September) according to the CDC. Be aware of the heat index for the dangers of combined heat and humidity.
Prepare For and Prevent Heat Wave Danger
- Make sure the air conditioning is installed and functional, check A/C ducts for proper insulation. Also check for any cracks or spaces in your home’s insulation for potential leaks. Upgrade weather strips around windows and doors to further seal off the house from heat.
- Install awning, blinds, or drapes. Keep them closed to keep sunlight and heat out. Look into installing black-out curtains as they will keep out the most amount of light compared to other drapes.
- Update your first-aid kit and make sure it contains all the necessary items to deal with hot weather. Don’t forget to prepare or acquire an emergency disaster kit in case the power goes out.
- Prepare for power outages and create a plan for yourself or your family in the event of power outages. Install a spare generator to power the A/C in the event of a power outage. Plan where to escape too if the interior of your house becomes too hot. Public areas like the library, swimming pools, etc. are excellent places to escape to.
- Drink plenty of water, despite your activity level or whether or not you feel thirsty. You can lose a lot of fluids by sweating alone and it’s important to replace whatever fluids you lose throughout the day.
- Never leave children or pets alone in the car. Besides obvious safety reasons, a car and get exponentially hot in a relatively short amount of time. With that being said, don’t leave your children or pets outside during a heatwave. Bring in all members of the family to cool off during the summer heat.
- Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day which is usually from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. Limit the time spent outside and avoid strenuous activity if you do find yourself outside for any reason. If you are outdoors, make sure to avoid direct sunlight and cool off in the shade as much as possible.
- Avoid consuming diuretics and other beverages that may dehydrate you. This includes alcohol, sugary drinks, soda, coffee, energy drinks, or other caffeinated drinks.
- Wear loose-fitting, light, air clothing as tight clothing traps heat against your body.
- If you are starting to feel over-heated, cool off with a wet cloth or sponge. Make sure to carry a cold bottle of water to either pour or spritz water on yourself to avoid overheating.
Don’t let your pet’s health go unnoticed during heat waves and the hotter months of the year. Make sure your pets stay cool inside and out by leaving out a bowl of water and providing ample shade. There are plenty of jackets designed to keep your pets cool by way of evaporation. Limit walks and exercise on hot days and be especially weary of hot pavements that could burn the pads of your pets’ feet.
Watch for Heatstroke
Watch for signs of heatstroke like heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, labored breathing, lethargy, fever, dizziness or lack of coordination, excessive salivating, vomiting, seizures, and a deep colored tongue and gums. Pets are especially at risk of heat stroke if they are old, overweight, not conditioned for prolonged exercise, have short muzzles, or have heart or respiratory disease. Follow guidelines set by the Humane Society for further information about avoiding heat stroke in pets.