Over the past decades, heat waves have been coming across America in increasing increments across major cities and states. This is reflected in the number of heat waves recorded, with an average of two strikings back in the 1960s to above six incidents this decade. It’s not only the occurrence of these heat waves, but their durations as well, with seasons lasting over 40 days longer than they were 40 years ago.
What sets a naturally warm summer day to the scorching effects of a heat wave? Climate change and the warming temperatures of our planet has become more apparent these days and this results to more extremes in the earth’s weather and temperatures, ranging from extremes in cold, heat, and increases in natural calamities and disasters.
Compared to your typical warm day, heat waves are periods exceeding two days where temperatures exceed the 85th percentile of typical summer temperatures. In other words, they are longer and more intense, leading to heat-related illnesses or even death if not taken seriously. It should be noted, however, that temperatures may vary from city to city. A temperature of 98 F may be normal in some areas, but extremely hot in others. Heat waves can lead to damaged crops, power outages, and can be a risk for all populations, particularly younger people and older adults.
On a normal basis, large urban sprawls and cities, including Salt Lake City, already face heat-related challenges compared to rural areas and provinces. Heat emanated from factories, cars, and buildings also contribute to heat as well as increasing population density and urban development. Impacts of heat waves can be more prominent at night as warmer temperatures mean more work for the body to regulate internal body temperature, therefore, adjusting humidity levels is important for water to evaporate easier. Ensuring that you hire heating and airconditioning repair experts is critical.
Course of Action
Before the Heat Wave
- Be aware of weather forecasts and temperatures as well as the heat index (a combination of heat and humidity). Talk to family members about safety precautions and where time will be spent. Be ready for power outages.
- Be mindful of children, elderly, and people at risk of high temperatures, at home and around the neighborhood. Keep pets and animals hydrated and kept cool.
- If airconditioning is not present, visit cooler places such as malls or schools during the peak temperatures of the day.
- Keep in mind that urban areas are at higher risks of feeling the effects of heat waves compared to those living in rural areas.
During the Heat Wave
- Keep updated with the weather through news updates for changes and precautions.
- Keep hydrated and cool by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages as these make you warmer.
- Never leave children and pets in enclosed spaces such as vehicles due to heat and a lack of ventilation.
- Avoid drastic temperature changes and wear cool, loose fitting clothing. Avoid strenuous activity, especially outdoors. If this cannot be avoided, be sure to have a buddy system as a look out. Take indoor breaks when needed.
- Be mindful of neighbors and children who do not have access to airconditioning as well as animals or pets if they are not feeling the effects of the heat wave.
Heat waves have varying durations and should be monitored from time to time. Keeping in check with family and surrounding neighbors should also be considered as the risk of a heat stroke may occur even without feeling its symptoms. Staying hydrated and decreasing active activity during a heat wave will reduce heat-related illnesses and can possibly save a life.