It seems that every summer heat records are being broken in various parts of Southern California and Fall 2015 has proven that heat waves are here to stay. It is our observation that with the El Nino on our doorstep, Southern California has been experiencing much more brutal and dangerous heat waves. This is not something to take lightly and great numbers of people are affected such as the young and the old.
It is estimated that heat wave deaths will triple into the 2050’s but that remains to be seen. On the flip side, many predict a coming little ice age. We don’t really care about the science or the debates but what we care about is the here and now. What do we do to prepare and adapt?
In recent years, excessive heat waves have caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, generally 10 degrees or more above average, often combined with excessive humidity.
You will likely hear weather forecasters use these terms when a heat wave is predicted in your community:
- Excessive Heat Watch – Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.
- Excessive Heat Warning – Heat Index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).
- Heat Advisory – Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).
What Can You Do To Prepare For A Heat Wave?
- Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
- Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined. Exposure to direct sunlight can increase the heat index by as much as 15° F.
- Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for the possibility of power outages.
- Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
- If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
- Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
- Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
- Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.