According to the Washington Post forecast data, 76 million people in the U.S. may be exposed to dangerous heat today. This week, the South is experiencing a heat wave that will push temperatures and heat indices into the triple-digits.
The danger of extreme heat
Of all the extreme weather hazards, overheating is responsible for taking the most lives. This is because high heat and humidity become life-threatening at a much faster rate than most other weather hazards. Heat was responsible for 1,577 deaths in 2021, says the Farmer’s Almanac, a 56% increase from 2018.
Needless to say, heat waves are not something to be ignored. Keep reading for a list of precautions you can take to beat the heat and stay safe this week.
1. Stay hydrated, avoid certain drinks
While it may seem obvious, staying hydrated is an important step in beating the summer heat. Hot weather causes you to sweat more, meaning it’s vital to replenish the water in your body. Before you get out in the heat, make sure to have some water and carry a water bottle along with you.
Avoid beverages that are dehydrating, such as anything sugary or caffeinated. This includes energy drinks, coffee, soda and especially alcohol. When eating, go for smaller, more frequent meals including fruits and vegetables with high water content.
2. Wear loose, light clothing
If you need to go out in the heat, be sure to put on loose-fitting, lightweight clothing made of breathable material. If you can, avoid dark colors that absorb heat.
3. Keep pets & kids safe
While we all have surely heard the statistics about how many pets and children suffer heatstroke from being left in a hot vehicle every year, it cannot be overstated how important it is to never leave your pet or child in a hot car– even for a few minutes.
Heat exhaustion begins very quickly and only takes a few minutes to become dangerous or even fatal. Try to keep animals indoors with a cool place to lie down and plenty of cool water to drink.
4. Keeping your home cool
Even if you don’t plan on going outside, it never hurts to take precautions to keep your home cool. After you lower your A/C to a cooler temperature, make sure to close blinds and curtains to keep out as much sunlight as possible.
If you don’t have working air conditioning, stay in the lowest floor of your home and circulate airflow with fans. If your home begins to feel too hot, relocate to a public place with air conditioning like a library or restaurant until heat subsides.
5. Check on elderly friends & family
While the effects of heat exhaustion are dangerous for everyone, elderly people and people with existing health complications are by far the most susceptible. Check on your friends and family to make sure they are in a cool location with plenty of air.
If someone you know is experiencing rapid-heartbeat, fainting, dizziness, muscle cramps or vomiting– they may be suffering from heatstroke and should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Stay safe, Alabama
Want to learn more about how to beat this year’s heat wave? Check out these resources:
- 5 ways to beat this unbearable heat wave in Birmingham
- It’s HOT outside. 5 ways to handle the Birmingham heatwave
- Is fall weather here to stay? Protect yourself with expert advice on heat stroke prevention
What are your tips for getting through an Alabama summer? Tag @bhamnow on Instagram + Facebook and let us know!