In the past weeks, a giant coast-to-coast heat dome has formed over the western and southern United States, and it is expected to intensify. It’s causing record-breaking temperatures in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and California’s Central Valley, as well as exceeding 130 degrees in Death Valley, California, the world’s heat capital.
In many places, the duration of this ongoing heat wave is more impressive than its intensity. Some areas have been experiencing unsafe temperatures for more than a month, and this heat wave shows no indications of abating anytime soon.
Heat advisories and watches affect nearly 100 million people in 15 states ranging from Washington to New Mexico, including Arizona and California, and from Texas to Florida.
Extreme heat can be life threatening if not taken seriously.
I used to ignore intense heat until one particularly day, 3rd of July 2023. A doctor was taking a little blood sample for a portable testing gadget when he asked me whether I had ringing in my ears. I answered yes, sweat streaming into my eyes and a pounding headache impeding my thinking.
That day, July 3, was the hottest day in world history.
The results of the tests were sobering. I drank too much water. My potassium levels were too low, my core temperature was too high, and I was urged to recover by sitting in a cool pool of water drawn off a tributary of the Colorado River.
Heatwaves are inevitable, but you can survive this if you have a heatwave action plan.
Preparing Your Home for Extreme Heat
Your home should be a sanctuary during heatwaves, and preparing it accordingly can make a significant difference. Ensure that your air conditioning systems are in optimal working condition, and consider adding insulation and weatherproofing to keep the indoor temperature cooler. Use window coverings and shades to block out the sun’s rays and reduce the heat inside.
Staying Hydrated and Cool
Proper hydration and staying cool are vital in withstanding extreme heat. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to take a sip. Wearing lightweight and breathable clothing can help your body regulate its temperature better. Utilize fans or take cool showers to provide some relief when the heat becomes overwhelming.
Protecting Your Pets and Livestock
Remember, it’s not just us humans who are susceptible to heat-related issues; our furry friends and livestock are equally at risk. Ensure that your pets and animals have access to shade and plenty of water. Be mindful of the signs of heat stress in animals, and never leave them in a hot car, as temperatures can soar dangerously within minutes.
Traveling and Extreme Heat
If you must travel during a heatwave, take extra precautions to stay safe on the road. Check your vehicle’s cooling system and carry out any necessary maintenance before embarking on your journey. Prepare a vehicle emergency kit with essentials like water, sunblock, and a first aid kit. Whenever possible, avoid outdoor activities during peak heat hours and seek shelter in cooler environments.
Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Plan
Finally, always be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Create an emergency kit specifically tailored to extreme heat events. This kit should include essentials like water, non-perishable food, a battery-powered fan, and a fully charged mobile phone. You should also know the evacuation routes and shelters in your area, and have a family emergency plan in place so everyone knows what to do if the situation becomes dire.
Beat the Heat
Surviving extreme heatwaves requires planning, awareness, and a collective effort to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. During this season, keep yourself hydrated enough so you and your loved ones could beat the heat.