How Can You Prepare for a Heatwave?
As California—and much of the country—prepares for a heatwave this September, there are a few things you can do.
As you’ve likely heard, California — and much of the country — is preparing for a long, brutal heat wave this September. I want to briefly share a few things you can do personally to help prepare and take care of those around you as well as protect the local power grid.
Personal Health and Safety
- First, review your emergency kit and make sure you have enough supplies for at least three days. This should include food, water, medicine, and a first-aid kit. If you have young children, the elderly, or pets, be sure to include their needs as well.
- Second, familiarize yourself with your local cooling center locations and hours. These are public buildings, like libraries or community centers, that offer respite from the heat during extreme temperatures.
- Third, sign up for your local power company’s outage alerts. This way you’ll know when power outages occur and how long they’re expected to last. (For example, I live in Burbank, CA, so I can follow BWP to ensure that I know what’s going on in my local area.)
- Fourth, stay hydrated and limit your time outdoors. Drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activity during the hottest hours of the day. If you must be outside, take frequent breaks in a cool, shady area.
- Finally, check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or have young children. Make sure they have what they need to stay cool and comfortable during the heat wave.
By following these simple tips, you can help stay safe and comfortable during the heat wave — and be prepared for any future extreme weather events. However, if you start to experience heat-related symptoms such as muscle cramps, headaches, lightheadedness, or nausea, stop all activity and seek medical attention.
Protecting the Local Power Grid and Acting Sustainably
As you know, heat waves can put a strain on the local power grid. To help reduce this strain and prevent blackouts, act sustainably by conserving energy whenever possible.
- Turn off all unnecessary lights and appliances, and raise your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher, if possible.
- If you have ceiling fans, use them to circulate cool air ahead of your central or alternative AC units. If it’s safe to do so, you can open your windows at night to let in cooler air.
- Wait until the evening to run appliances rather than during the day when the power grid is typically taxed more heavily by simultaneously running AC systems, etc.
- If you have window blinds, curtains, or covers, considered keeping them closed during the brightest parts of the day, as this will keep your house cooler without the need for additional AC or fan usage.
- Close your windows when the AC is running!
- If you have the opportunity in the future, upgrade to Energy Star refrigerators, washers, and dryers. These appliances use on average 10–50% less water and energy than traditional models.
- Finally, if within your means, consider investing in solar panels (especially since places like California will likely continue to get sunnier and hotter). Solar energy is a sustainable, renewable resource that can help you save money on your power bill while reducing your carbon footprint.
By taking these simple steps, you can help prepare for the heat wave and do your part to protect the local power grid and your health. Stay safe!
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