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Staying Safe During a Heatwave

Friday, June 9, 2017

We do a lot of talking about the weather in Minnesota. We've all heard the phrase, "Cold enough for ya?" But what if it isn't. Minnesota, though known for its cold temperatures, can also be extremely hot and humid during its brief summer months. So it is very important to plan and prepare for periods of extreme heat, for yourself and for those in your care.

Extreme heat can kill by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, the body has to work extra hard to maintain normal temperature. Heat-related deaths and issues can usually be prevented – most happen because of overexposure to heat or over-exercising. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to be affected by extreme heat. It's important to plan ahead and to take precautions to stay safe.

Preparation

Identify the items you use or need every day and decide what to do if they are limited or not available, for example medication that requires refrigeration. Create a disaster supply kit that includes supplies for the unique needs of your family. The Ready.gov website recommends that people have a three-day supply of food, water and other necessities on hand in the event of any emergency.

In addition, you can weather-strip outer doors and window sills to keep cool air in, and cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers, which can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent. You can also keep storm windows up all year and check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.

Stay Safe

During inclement weather, such as a heat wave, the American Red Cross recommends listening to local weather forecasts to stay aware of upcoming temperature changes and critical updates from the National Weather Service. They also suggest you eat small meals and eat more often and avoid or limit the intake of alcoholic beverages and drinks with caffeine. However, you should drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.

During times of extreme heat, if air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor of the building and wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. They recommend you slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day and take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.

Be sure to check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat. Be sure also to check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat, and ensure they have water and a shady place to rest. Be prepared to help you and your family members stay safe.