A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don’t take the proper precautions. As such, consider this guidance to prepare for extreme heat.
Before Extreme Heat
To prepare for extreme heat, do the following:
- Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Install window air conditioners. Make sure they fit snugly, and insulate them if necessary
- Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
- Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.)
- Keep storm windows up all year.
- Listen to local weather forecasts so you can be aware of upcoming temperature changes.
- Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
- Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
- Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
During Extreme Heat
What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:
- Listen to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service.
- Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
- Stay indoors as much as possible.
- Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities
- Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the evaporation rate of perspiration.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. People who have epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease, who are on fluid-restricted diets or who have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
- Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and brightly-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors, because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Protect your face and head from sun exposure by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
- Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat.