A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, often accompanied by high humidity. Prolonged periods of high temperatures and high humidity can be very dangerous for your health. In extreme heat and humidity, evaporation is slowed and your body has to work very hard to maintain a normal temperature. To survive a heat wave, the most important thing is to stay indoors and stay cool. Take cold showers to lower your body temperature and cover windows with reflectors and drapes.
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For more tips from our Medical co-author, such as identifying and treating heat exhaustion, read on! This article was co-authored by Chris M.
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Matsko, MD Updated: March 29, There are 48 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. Make an emergency kit. You can keep one kit to cover most possible emergencies. You just need to get together a few household essentials and put them in a secure place in case you should need them. You should have enough supplies to last 72 hours. Make sure your kit includes the following:  A gallon of water a day per person more for nursing mothers, children, and sick people  Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food, such as salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned goods -- include a can opener  Any medications you need Sanitary and personal hygiene items  Infant formula and diapers  Pet food  A torch or flashlight A first aid kit A cell phone Extra batteries  Moist towelettes, toilet paper, and garbage bags for personal sanitation .
Have a family communications plan. One good way to ensure you can get in touch is to write out a contact card for each person with lists of phone numbers and addresses. A contact card is a card where phone numbers are written down and stored somewhere other than your cell phone. A laminated sheet of paper or index card will keep ink from running if it gets wet. If there is high traffic on a phone network, text messages SMS are more likely to get through than a call.
Consider doing some basic first aid training. If you are in an area that experiences frequent periods of extreme heat, or if you just want to learn some useful skills, you can take a first aid class. Find one in your local area and sign up. Remember that some require payment.
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Many of the skills you will learn can prove helpful in a heat wave. Look out for the most vulnerable. Extreme heat can cause health problems for anybody, but there are groups of people for whom it will be more dangerous than others. Young children, older or elderly adults, and sick or overweight people will be at the highest risk of suffering illness due to extreme heat and humidity. People who work outside and athletes may also be at increased risk of heat-related illnesses. Make sure they understand the dangers of extreme heat. Don't forget pets!
If you have a dog or cat, it can be affected by the heat too. Keep track of the local weather forecasts. Sometimes, the power may go out. A hand-cranked or battery-powered radio will help you track the weather forecast.
Be aware of environmental conditions that can increase the dangers. If you live in an area that is heavily asphalted or covered in concrete, the effects of a heat wave can be increased. Asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release this heat during the night, producing higher night-time temperatures.
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This is known as the "urban heat island effect". At night, this difference can be up to 22F 12C degrees. Stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality smog, pollution also exacerbate a heat wave. Make sure your window air-conditioners are well-fitted. Preparing your home for a heat wave involves a number of relatively small tasks that can help you to keep cool air in and hot air out. If you have window air-conditioners, start by making sure they are installed well. If there are gaps around the sides, insulate them.
Prepare temporary window reflectors. One relatively quick thing you can do to help keep your house as cool as possible is to make some reflectors to fit your window panes. Use a reflective material such as tin foil or aluminium foil and wrap it around some cardboard. The foil will reflect the sun rather than absorb it.
You might want to do this just for one or two rooms where you will spend a lot of time. Cover windows that receive morning and afternoon sun. Even with the reflectors, it is a good idea to cover the windows which receive a lot of sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. Closing the drapes on the inside will make a difference, but outdoor awnings and louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.
These can help keep the room cool. Keep your storm windows up. You can consider keeping your storm windows up all year round. During a heat wave they will help to keep the heat out of your house, just as they help to keep the heat in, and cold out during the winter. Keeping your home as well insulated as possible will help you to stay cool. Stay well hydrated. Even if you don't feel thirsty, keep taking regular sips.
Avoid drinks with a lot of caffeine such as coffee and tea, and severely limit your intake of alcohol.
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There are some instances when you should consult a doctor before increasing the amount of liquids you drink: If you have epilepsy, or heart, liver, or kidney disease. If you are on a fluid-restricted diet or have a problem with fluid retention.
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Eat appropriately. Eating is an effective method to control your body temperature. Eat well-balanced and light meals regularly, rather than two or three enormous plates of food. Foods that are rich in protein, such as meats and nuts, will increase metabolic heat. Intend to save the cash for property purchase.
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