Heatwaves are no joke. In fact, heatwaves are responsible for just over 4,000 emergency room visits annually, and if severe enough, heat-related illnesses can cause a heat stroke. If your area is expecting a heatwave, you know that you should stay hydrated, reduce outdoor activities, and run fans and other air conditioning units if possible. But, here are a few other suggestions to consider, as well as a quick primer on which symptoms constitute a health emergency.
Open windows at night only.
Open your windows too early in the day, and you’ll let valuable air conditioning escape while inviting more hot air in. However, if you open your windows at night, you’ll allow cooler air in your home. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can even leave the windows open while you sleep. This will give you the maximum benefit of the cooler night air.
Limit your use of hot appliances and activities.
It’s a simple trick that’s worth repeating: if you’re going through a heatwave, don’t turn on any inside appliances that could make your space even hotter. That goes for your oven and range, dishwasher, and/or laundry appliances. Reconsider your meal plans if you were planning on using the oven, and if you were planning to exercise at home or indulge in a hot shower, do those activities later in the day.
Use ice or water strategically.
If you have access to cold water or ice, you have all you need to cool down your skin before extreme heat sets in. Simply use a spray bottle to mist yourself with cool water whenever you feel your body temperature starts to go up. Consider taking a cold shower or rinsing your feet in an ice bath. You can also get more creative by using a fan and a bowl of ice to create an icy cool blast of air.
Recognize the signs of a heat-related emergency.
Despite your best efforts, heat-related illness can still happen. Keep an eye out for symptoms of heatstroke, which include headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and vomiting. The skin may be hot and dry, and people may have seizures or lapse into a coma. Call 911 immediately if you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms or other strange symptoms that do not subside when you move to a cooler location.
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