You might think that a heat wave is something we can quickly prepare for and survive; But did you know in the past two decades there’s been tens of thousands of death around the world directly implicated with weather-related heat? In this article, I will reveal the dangers of heat waves and give you some tips and life hacks on how to prepare and survive days of extreme heat.
2016 was the warmest year to date on this planet. The last Seven warmest years on Earth was 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2005. That might be a sign that something is happening to our global climate.
It is always best to prepare ourselves because as you will find out by reading this article, many people die from hot days.
How Can Extreme Heat Kill You?
In extreme temperatures, some people may die because they will not be able to handle the heat. One of the most significant problems related to heat wave fatalities are the areas with the highest humidity. Sweat evaporates far more slowly in high humidity. No evaporation means your body is not cooling itself down and causes the body to sweat, even more, causing dehydration.
When the human body is not able to dissipate its heat, some adverse effect will begin to happen. Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, cramps, and fainting are common side effects of the body reaching an unmanageable high temperature.
These types of afflictions will more prominently affect the elderly and young children. People who are sick and suffer from a lowered immune system will also be significantly affected.
Essentially, the heat overwhelms the body’s ability to cool itself down. You know you’re in trouble when you eventually stop sweating altogether. The electrolyte’s you lose during sweating can cause muscle cramps or fainting. Of course, you’ll become very thirsty at this stage and as your brain becomes affected the symptoms can include weakness, dizziness, nausea and become uncoordinated.
As the human body experiences an immense water shortage, blood will become thicker. The thicker your blood becomes, the harder it will be for the heart to pump it sufficiently. At this stage, the kidneys will also not be able to clean the blood properly, and the oxygen levels will drop. The heart will then try to compensate by pumping more blood at a faster rate.
As the heart is compensating for all these adverse effects the heat is causing the body, it will begin heating up even more. This will cause the skin to become cold and clammy. The next stage is, unfortunately, DEATH.
The European Heatwave of 2003
In 2003 the European heatwave was thought to be the continent’s warmest heatwave in recorded history. There more than 20,000 fatalities across Europe that were the direct result of the heatwave.
The UK’s hottest day on record was August 10th 2003. In France, some area’s recorded the heat wave at 104F (40C) or warmer for seven consecutive days during the summer.
In France alone there was over 3000 death during a single day, now known in France as Black Monday. Most victims of the extreme heat were elderlies. This short video clip below will show you what happened during the deadly summer of 2003.
What Was the Cause and Impact of the European Heatwave?
The cause of the European heatwave was due to a large and persistent area of high pressure that sat across much of Europe in July and August 2003. As the days went on, sunshine and high temperature allowed the heat to build up day after day with barely any rain to cool the area down.
The Impact of the heatwave and other heatwaves across the globe, aside from heat-related death, the agricultural sectors was severely affected. Loss of crops and livestock cost farmers Billions of dollars in damages and lost revenues for the year.
The population adapted by altering their working hours in hopes of avoiding the hottest parts of the day.
Water wells began drying up, and the urban areas banned the use of garden hoses,, especially for people watering their lawns or washing their vehicles.
Tips for How to Prepare Yourself for a Heatwave
Periods of extreme heat can be fatal to some people that fail to prepare themselves for an imminent heatwave. Here are some tips you should do to get ready for summer days of extreme heat.
- Lower window Blinds and close all the curtains, so the windows are not able to let any sunlight inside the home.
- When the temperature inside your home is cooler than it is outdoors, make sure to close all the windows. If there is a drop in temperature overnight, open the windows in hopes of cooling down the interior of the house.
- If staying in your home is not possible due to the heat, you should go inside a public building equipped with an air conditioning system. This could be as simple as going to the library or the grocery store. Local governments will open facilities to the public so people can come in and cool down. However, this is mostly done in periods of long-term heat waves lasting several days and weeks.
- Use fans and AC units in at least one room of the house.
- Try to avoid going outdoors between 11 am and 6 pm because those hours will be the warmest.
- If you’re outside during a heatwave, avoid doing any physical activities like running or playing sports. If you are outdoors, wear something to cover your head and make sure to always have a bottle of water on you so you can stay hydrated. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen since the UV index will most likely be extreme.
- Having a cold shower or bath a couple of times a day will help your body cool off. Even the garden hose can do a great job at doing this if you have water available. Some municipalities are still able to pump water to all the homes even in the event of a power outage. A generator is a great thing to have if you have no electricity and your only source of water is from a private well.
- Drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day. Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks, If you’re in a severe situation where the heat could be of detriment to your health. You should also avoid drinking liquids with a high content of sugar. “These beverages are very dehydrating and act as diuretics. They cause your kidneys to excrete pure water without ridding your body of any toxins. Again, probiotic liquids to the rescue. Replace soda pop with healing, bubbly probiotic liquids. Combine them with sparkling mineral water and a few drops of stevia, and you have a delightful soda pop replacement that will give you energy AND provide your body with microflora and minerals.” Click here for full reference.
- Make sure to remain vigilant if you’re around infants, children’s and seniors since heat stroke can quickly overtake them.
- Do not turn on anything that generates heat. Avoid cooking food inside your home and use a BBQ instead if possible. Eating hot food on a hot summer day might not be such a good idea if your goal is staying cool, there are plenty of food that you can eat cold during a heatwave.
- Loose-fitting cotton cloths is an effective way to keep your body cooler. Light color clothing absorbs less heat and the fabric wicks away moisture from your body.
Survival Life Hacks to Beat the Heat
These survival life hacks are a bit more unconventional than the tips above but they do work when in desperate need of cooling off. Here is a small list of my top 8 heatwave life hacks.
1 – Spicy Food is your friend
Have you ever wondered why people living in the warmest climates on earth would most likely be the ones eating the spiciest food? The reason for this is spicy food will make you sweat which allows your body to cool down. Your body will also be provided with a good dose of endorphins. Endorphins will calm your body down and as a result, will produce less heat.
2 – Homemade Air Conditioner
You can make a DIY air conditioner with only a few ingredients. You will need to fill a bowl with ice cubes and turn on a fan in front of it. This will allow the air blowing from the fan to flow through the ice. Of course, this is nowhere near as useful as a real AC unit, but it does have a cooling effect. Try it and let me know if it works for you!
3 – Turn Off Computer
Your computer and other electrical equipment can emit an immense amount of heat. Unplug all the electrical equipment that is also not in use. Because even though they are in the off position, they are still emitting a small amount of heat because nothing is off until its unplugged.
4 – Bed+Freezer=Awesomness:
I never tried this life hack, but it does make perfect sense! Before going to bed, place your folded bedsheets in the fridge or freezer to cool them off. The sheets will not stay cold for very long after your warm body comes in contact with them, but it will give you some much-needed relief during extreme heat.
5 – Turn Hot Water Bottle Cold
Find yourself a rubber hot water bottle, the kind people use to soothe body aches. Fill it up with cold water and place it in the fridge for an hour. Setting the cold water bottle on your neck is a perfect way to cool off during a heatwave.
6 – LED’s
Change all the light bulbs in your house from incandescent to CFLs, and LEDs as they produce almost no heat. By doing this, you will save on energy cost and you will also have a more refreshing and well lit home.
7 – Mist Yourself
Find yourself a small spray bottle. Make sure this bottle have a setting that enables it to spray a very fine mist. Fill half of the bottle with water and place it in the freezer. When half the bottle is frozen, fill the other half with water. Now you have water that will stay colder for longer because of the frozen water at the bottom of the bottle. You can now keep cool spraying a mist of cold water on your face and arms while you’re trying to survive a heatwave.
8 – Old Linnen Shirts
Find yourself some old linen shirts from the thrift store and cut them up in the size of small towels. Dunk the linen towels in cold water and use that to cool yourself down by placing them over your head and neck. Linnen is even more breathable than cotton and will also be cooler when wet.
I hope these heatwave tips and hacks will help you during times of extreme heat. Leave me a comment below if there are any tips and hacks that I might have missed that you find useful during a heatwave. Please share with anyone you think would benefit from this information.