10 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave
Jul 14, 2022
IN SUMMER, HEAT WAVES CAN STRIKE AREAS OF THE COUNTRY WHERE COOLER CLIMATES ARE THE NORM. In these areas surviving in the extreme temperatures becomes a challenge for everyone. The following steps can help you keep cool during a heat wave whether you have air-conditioning or not.
Use box fans and ceiling fans to promote air circulation throughout your home. Opening doors in the house and using box fans to push hot air outdoors can function as an “exhaust” system and draw cooler evening air into the house. In the cooler evenings, open all windows and promote as much air circulation as possible. When the sun rises, close all doors and windows, making sure to close curtains and blinds as well, to keep the indoors cool for as long as possible.
Take advantage of the cooling power of water. Fill buckets or basins and soak your feet. Wet towels and bandanas can have a cooling effect when worn on the shoulders or head. Take cool showers or baths, and consider using a spray bottle filled with cold water for refreshing spritzes.
Head downstairs. Since hot air rises, the upper stories of a home will be warmer than the ground floor. A basement can be a cool refuge from the midday heat if available.
Eliminate extra sources of heat. Incandescent light bulbs can generate unnecessary heat, as can computers or appliances left running. Try to avoid using the oven or stove to prepare meals if possible.
Remember to maintain an adequate level of hydration, which means you’ll need to consume more water than you usually do when it’s hot. If you’re sweating profusely, you will also need to replace electrolytes by eating a small amount of food with your water or by drinking specially-formulated electrolyte replacement drinks. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration so you should make sure that you are drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day.
Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, as both of these substances can promote dehydration.
Create a homemade “air conditioning” system, sit in the path of a box fan that is aimed at an open cooler, or pan filled with ice.
Try to visit public buildings with air conditioning during the hottest hours of the day if the heat becomes unbearable. Libraries, shopping malls, and movie theaters can all be good places to cool down.
Be able to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and true heat emergencies (heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke) which can include: red skin, lack of perspiration, dizziness, nausea and confusion. Call emergency services (911) in the event of a heat emergency and try to cool the victim until help arrives. Be especially vigilant around seniors and children.
Finally, remember that pets also suffer when the temperature rises. Cooling animals (dogs, rabbits, cats) by giving them a “cool” bath or shower will help keep their body temperature down. A cool towel on a tile floor to lay on, a cool towel or washcloth laying over the skin next to a fan will also help cool the animal. Make sure they have plenty of cool water to drink as well. Signs of a heat stroke in a pet are: rapid panting, wide eyes, lots of drooling, hot skin, twitching muscles, vomiting and a dazed look. Call your vet if you think your pet has a heat stroke.