Dangerous temperatures exceeding 105 degrees Fahrenheit in select areas of the Northeast and Northwest have prompted excessive heat warnings. The weather conditions pose a threat to young children, older adults and anyone who doesn’t take the right safety precautions before and during the heat wave.
Dozens of deaths having been reported since the heat waves started in June, all of which can be prevented with a few measures to ensure that both you and your family can safely get through this heat wave.
The first step is prevention. Here are some safety tips that can be used to help ease the heat impact before it even begins:
- If you do not have air conditioning, like many citizens in Oregon and Washington, then consider going to public places that do, such as malls or libraries; your local health department should be able to help you find a cooling area near you.
- Cover your windows with curtains or blinds to block sunlight from coming in.
- Do not rely on fans to keep you cool because they have no effect on the body’s temperature, only a false sense of relief; if you do not have central air conditioning, consider a window cooling unit, which is easy and quick to install.
- Use a powered attic ventilator, or attic fan, to regulate the heat level of a building’s top level by clearing out hot air.
- Install weather strips around your doors and windows, in addition to installation, to keep the cooler air in and the hotter air out
- If you are unable to afford your cooling costs, weatherization or energy-related home repairs, contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help.
During a heat wave, be sure to follow these steps to help reduce your body temperature, as well as the temperatures in your homes:
- Limit the usage of your oven to prevent heating in the home.
- Wear a mask that is made of breathable fabric such as cotton, avoid polyester. Do not wear the mask if you are overheated or having difficulty breathing.
- Take cold baths or showers to reduce your body temperature.
- Wear clothing that is light in color and loose-fitting.
- If possible, avoid outdoor work and high intensity activities during the midday, which is the hottest part of the day
- Go to a cooling area if you have no air conditioning
- Wear a hat that is wide enough to protect your face from the sun’s rays
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated, but avoid sodas and other sugary drinks
- Do not leave children, pets, or people in the car on a warm day; they could die from heat stroke
- If leaving your pets outside, be sure that they have access to plenty of shade and cool water, avoid them being on black asphalt and dark pavement, which attract more heat than light-colored concrete and could burn your pet’s paws.
- Check on your neighbors, family members and children and the elderly to ensure that they are doing well.
If you or anybody else experiences the following symptoms, as they could be a sign of heat stroke, then call 911 or get to a hospital immediately while trying to cool down; do not drink any liquids:
- Extremely high body temperature (103°F or above, taken orally)
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Hot, red and dry skin with no sweat
- Confusion, dizziness or unconsciousness