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How to Prepare for a Heat Wave

How to Prepare for a Heat Wave

Updated on 05/26/2022

A heat wave can make a hot summer feel even more miserable. But more than being uncomfortable, a heat wave can cause a person to suffer a heatstroke. When the body overheats to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, as is the case during heatstroke, the sufferer is at risk for permanent damage to his or her brain, kidneys and other vital organs. This is a condition that can be easily avoided if the necessary precautions are taken. Find out what you can do to help save someone’s life in the event of a heat wave.

Prep an Emergency Kit for a Heat Wave

An emergency kit for a heat wave is unlike many other emergency preparedness kit. Heat waves are serious. They require different preparations and items. These specialized items focus on keeping you cool and hydrated. Stock your emergency kit with the following materials.

Water Pouches

Water pouches come in handy when you’re working outside or playing sports in the sun. They fit easily into a pocket or backpack. Purchase these online or in emergency supply stores. While cool water is preferred, these pouches are convenient methods of rehydration. Someone suffering from heat stroke can quickly hydrate regardless of his or her location.

Electrolyte Tablets and Drinks

Heat waves cause you to lose water and essential nutrients quickly through the process of sweating. Those participating in physical activities like yard work, construction work or sports are more susceptible to dehydration. Place an electrolyte tablet into your bottle of water to help restore your body in cases of extreme heat.

Sports drinks contain electrolytes, which also helps you become hydrated rather quickly. However, these drinks often contain a lot of sugar. If you are working for prolonged periods of time in extreme heat, avoid consuming large amounts of these drinks.

Personal Fans and Towels

Personal battery-operated fans come attached to small spray bottles. If you are outside on a hot day, cool yourself with a spray fan. Otherwise, carry a personal towel with you and dampen it with cool water. Place it over your head or wipe yourself down as you experience excessive heat.

Ice Packs

If you know you are going to experience extreme heat and must be outside, keep a cooler with ice, drinks and ice packs nearby. These help you stay cool when you take a break. If a cooler seems too cumbersome, purchase breakable cold packs, which turn ice-cold when you break the materials within the package. Place them on your neck, forehead, lower back and legs to lower your overall body temperature.

Keep a first-aid kit stocked with breakable cold packs, ice tape, gauze and scissors. Ice tape becomes cool when exposed to the air. Attach it to your body for an instant cool-down. If you do not carry ice tape, use gauze, tape and scissors to secure ice packs to your body.

Emergency Protocols and Exits for a Heat Wave

Most people living in an area experiencing a heat wave prefer to stay in their air-conditioned homes. Thus, exit strategies for a heat wave are not very common. However, in the event of a power outage, seek shelter in an air-conditioned facility.

There are emergency protocols to follow if you see someone suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Common symptoms of heat stroke or exhaustion include the following:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fainting
  • Confusion

If someone experiences the symptoms above, call 911 to have paramedics examine him or her. If he or she requires immediate medical help, start by moving him or her under a shaded tree or area. If possible, take the person’s body temperature.

Place ice packs or ice tape on the person’s neck, armpit, back, groin and legs. These spots have the largest blood vessels, cooling the person much more quickly. Give him or her cool water, water with electrolytes or sports drinks. Continue to fan the person and place a moist towel on his or her forehead.

If you can, move the affected person inside an air-conditioned building. Alternatively, place him or her in a bathtub with cool water running. Avoid letting the water get too cold, as it could shock the body. As always, adhere to the advice of medical professionals.

If the person is conscious, keep him or her awake and get to the hospital as soon as possible. Continue to administer cool water and turn on the vehicle’s air conditioner. If the person is not conscious, call for an ambulance immediately. Report his or her temperature and the conditions under which he or she passed out. Continue to keep the body as cool as possible and give him or her water while waiting for emergency personnel to take over.

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