Heatwaves and hot weather are becoming much more frequent as our climate warms. There have been a number of heatwaves in various parts of the world over recent years with dangerous temperatures. Extreme heatwaves can cause many fatalities. It is likely that the trend will continue in future, with extreme heatwaves becoming more common in many parts of the world. Find out here what you need to do to survive a heatwave.
Why Do People Die In Heatwaves?
There are several reasons that heatwaves kill people; understanding these causes can help you reduce the risk.
Dehydration is the most common cause of death due to heat. When the temperature rises, our bodies sweat to try to control the body temperature. Sweating causes the body to lose moisture, and the more you sweat the more you lose. This causes the blood to thicken, increasing the risk of clotting. In turn, this can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Elderly people and those with weakened cardiovascular systems are most at risk, but dehydration can affect anyone.
High Body Temperature & Heatstroke
The human body is fairly good at regulating its own temperature, balancing heat loss through sweating with heat gain in hot weather. However, when the temperature increases more, sweating isn’t enough to stop the body temperature rising. An increase in body temperature above 40oC (normal body temperature is 37oC) can lead to heatstroke.
Heatstroke is a serious issue, and can cause major organ failure leading to death.
If your skin gets hot, it makes it more difficult for your cardiovascular system to maintain the flow of blood. Your heart has to work harder to allow the cardiovascular system to supply blood throughout your skin and other organs. This in turn can lead to a heart attack due to the extra stress your heart is under.
How To Survive A Heatwave
You can survive a heatwave if you can stay cool. Here are some tips for how to stay cool and survive a heatwave:
Stay Informed: Know When To Expect A Heatwave
Keep up-to-date with weather information so that you can be prepared for a heatwave before it happens. Sign up for weather alerts and alerts for specific types of weather, such as heat waves.
Plan Ahead: Know What To Do In A Heatwave
If you want to escape the heatwave, make sure to have an evacuation or bug out plan in place. Have a plan for where you would go if the heat becomes too much to handle.
Stay Cool: Survive A Heatwave By Keeping Cool
Try to stay indoors as much as possible during a heatwave. Limit outdoor activity and exercise, and wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. If you have to be outside, take extra precautions to stay cool including staying in the shade as much as possible, wearing a hat, and drinking plenty of water.
Spray water mist on your skin to help it to cool. Shower in cool, but not cold water, because cold water will stop your body from trying to cool itself.
Stay Hydrated: Vital To Survive A Heatwave
Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are feeling hot and sweaty. It is very easy to become dehydrated in hot weather without realising it. Monitor your fluid intake to ensure that you are drinking plenty of fluids.
How To Keep Your House Cool In A Heatwave
Unless your house has air conditioning, it can be difficult to keep your hose cool in a heatwave. Here are our tips for keeping your house cool.
Open or Close Windows So Cooler Air Is Inside
It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes keeping windows closed helps to keep your house cool. If the air outside is warmer than the air inside, close the windows to stop warmer air coming in to the house. In the evening and early morning, when it’s cooler outside, open the windows to allow cooler air in.
Use A Fan To Keep Your House Cool
Buy an electric pedestal fan and use it to create airflow through the house. When the air is cooler outside than inside, open windows upstairs and downstairs, and place the fan to blow air out of the upstairs window. Warmer air flows upwards, so the fan will remove some warmer air from the house and allow cooler air to flow in downstairs.
If the air is warmer outside than inside, keep the windows closed, and use the fan to circulate air in the house instead. Freeze some water bottles, and place them in front of the fan. The air will cool as it blows over the bottles and circulate around the house.
Do not use an electric fan in a closed room. Although it will move some air around the room, the electric motor generates heat. In a closed room, running anything electrical will cause an increase in temperature.
Close Curtains Or Blinds To Keep Rooms Cool
Keep curtains or blinds closed, particularly on windows facing the sun, to reduce the amount of heat building up in a room. Add blackout curtain liners to the back of your existing curtains to block out more sunlight and heat. The blackout curtain liners clip to your existing curtains and will make the room darker and cooler.