Important Things to Consider During Heat Waves

by Editor on July 24, 2013

The remains of a supernova first seen in 1604.

It’s that time of the year again – summer is upon us, along with all of the heat that comes with it. But the hot weather in many areas doesn’t just stick to the summer’s three months, often setting in as early as May and lasting well into September. But how will you cope with the summer heat?

Be Prepared

Firstly, residents in the Palm Desert area can attest that air conditioning installation is your new best friend. Paying a little more on the power bill is worth the comfort and even safety that a well-running AC can offer you. To maximize the effects of your air conditioning, keep all windows either closed tight or blocked by an additional window-AC.

If it’s especially hot out, you may even have to take further precautionary measures, such as adding weather-strips to doors and windowsills to keep the cool air inside and installing temporary window reflectors (as simple as tin-foil on cardboard) to reflect the heat back outside.

Whether you’re inside or out, try to wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, and as few of them as modesty allows. (If you’re outside, don’t forget your sunblock. ) Avoid fabrics like cotton and flannel that absorb and trap heat, or you’ll be cooking before you know it.

Also, make sure to keep hydrated. Water is a staple, but if you’re doing a lot of sweating, try fruit juice or a sports drink to replenish lost vitamins and electrolytes. On top of that, you should make sure to avoid dehydration as much as possible.

Alcohol or anything with carbonation or caffeine not only fail to hydrate you, but they actually have been proven to do the opposite, sucking away your hydration when you need it the most. While we’re on the topic of food and drinks, avoid fast food if possible; the high-fat, high-calorie diet raises your metabolism, and your body heat along with it. And as much fun as it seems to be outside doing sports or some other activity, once the heat wave sets in it’s best to hold off on anything that will raise your internal temperature even more than it already is.

You should also check out the Red Cross’ Heat Wave Safety Checklist even before the heat sets in. It has more details on what you should do before, during, and after a heat wave. And just to be extra-careful and safe, the National Weather Service has their own page on how to beat the heat.

What if Preparation Wasn’t Enough?

Even if you do your best to prepare and to stay cool and hydrated, there’s still a chance that you or those around you might be dangerously affected by the heat.

If your home or apartment doesn’t have air conditioning, your best bet is still to find somewhere that does. If this isn’t possible, however, stay downstairs as much as possible – heat rises, so it’ll be much cooler there than upstairs.

If you need to cool off in a hurry, your first thought is likely to take a cold shower, but don’t. Such a rapid transition from hot to cold can actually cause hypothermia. Instead, wrap some ice in a thin towel or a paper towel and hold it against one of your pulse points, the spots that cool your body the quickest.

And keep an eye out for any sign that you or someone you know is suffering from any kind of a heat-induced condition. In fact, don’t be afraid to call people on the phone – neighbors, family, and friends, especially those who are older or sick – to make sure that they’re alright.

Heatstroke is an emergency, and it’s more common than you realize. Watch for clammy skin, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or even unconsciousness after any amount of time spent in the sun. If you spot these signs, call 911. As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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