What to do during a heatwave
We receive many warnings about the dangers of cold weather. This includes how to prepare whilst at home, school or work and what to stock up on for long journeys, but we tend to forget that when it gets too hot it can be just as dangerous. In fact, a heatwave is perhaps even more dangerous, simply because many of us fail to recognize the threat.
In the Northeast of the country an official heatwave is when the air temperature reaches 90 degrees or more for three days or more in one location. However, in California, where it is generally hotter and much drier with less humidity, temperatures must reach 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region to be classed as a heat emergency. In fact, in the US this year the highest recorded temperature has been in Death Valley, with 127 degrees recorded in both June and July, although no one lives in the region due to the high temperatures. In inhabited areas, Las Vegas saw a record broken, with 117 degrees recorded on June 20 2017, tying the highest on record, which occurred in 1937.
Of course, answering the question “what is a heatwave” doesn’t tell you what it feels like, but imagine the thermostat breaking in an apartment, so the heating is just stuck on full all the time. The apartment gets hotter and hotter, and no matter how many windows you open, it keeps going. That is essentially what a heatwave is like. The temperatures soar in the day, but because the earth, which are the walls of your home, get hotter in the day, they do not get chance to cool down properly at night, so you get no break.
Knowing how to deal with a heatwave is important, but it affects different people in different ways, let’s look at what it does and how we can stay cool and safe.
Children can be especially vulnerable to prolonged exposure to heat, because a child’s body heats up between 3 and 5 times faster than an adult, but they may also lack the awareness of danger and be unaware of what to do during a heatwave. Ensure they are always well hydrated but avoid sugary drinks where possible. Water from a cooler is great when at home during the summer holidays, and with a bottleless watercooler you never have to worry about running out of fresh water. Apart from staying hydrated, there are other things you can do for your child during a heatwave. This includes:
- dressing them in loose fitting clothesnever leaving a child in a parked car, even with open windows
- never leaving a child in a parked car, even with open windows
- keeping them out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, the hottest part of the day
Extreme weather can overpower the human body and adults are not immune. Although adults generally recognize what to do during a heatwave, as work days become longer and the work begins to pile up, it can be easy to put off that drink of water. As we become dehydrated our productivity falls, as it takes us more effort to do any task, however simple. So keeping hydrated to avoid to avoid heat exhaustion is key.
A plumbed in water system such as those provided by Waterlogic provide the ultimate in office water systems, not just ensuring a continuous supply of cool water, without worrying about the next bottle delivery, but because they also remove inorganic substances and destroy 99.9999% germs and bacteria before the water reaches your glass. This keeps everyone healthier and better hydrated all in one. In addition to staying hydrated, portable USB fans that can be charged using your computer or phone are useful for keeping you cool in the office or car.
The elderly can be particularly vulnerable to heat because their bodies do not adapt to temperature changes. They are also more likely to be taking medication that can hinder the body’s own heat coping mechanisms as well. As such, it is important for the elderly to stay in air-conditioned environments where possible. As with all others, hydration is especially important, drinking before you become thirsty to ensure dehydration does not become an issue.
What about heatwaves during the night?
Staying cool at night is essential to allow you to get the rest your body needs. Everyone, no matter what age, needs to stay cool, and for those with air conditioning keeping it set to 78 degrees can provide the cooling needed. For those without air conditioning, fans can help, but you can also do things during the day to help. Keep drapes closed to keep the interior cooler throughout the day, making it cooler at night as well, and avoid running any major appliances where possible as they can heat the home up quite quickly.
Heat can be as dangerous as any other wild weather event, and it is essential we what to do during a heatwave. Keeping cool during a heatwave is not easy, especially if we have to be out and about working, but avoiding the worst of the sun and using plenty of sun cream all the time will help. Most important is avoiding dehydration, because that weakens the body and leads to sunstroke and other problems, so plenty of water is crucial. This means you should never wait until you are thirsty to drink, that is too late and you are already at the beginnings of dehydration. Drink plenty, regularly, and follow our other steps to keep cool when the heat is on.