Kansas City is no stranger to summer heat. We’ve already had several heat advisories this summer and more extreme heat is expected in the coming weeks. According to the National Weather Service, heat is one of the leading weather-related causes of death in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities and even more heat-related illnesses every year. In fact, in recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events. But there are things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe during a heat wave.
- Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.
- Stay indoors in air conditioned areas when possible.
- Try to schedule outdoor activities in the mornings or evenings.
- If you must be outdoors, schedule frequent breaks in cool, shaded areas. The heat index can increase by as much as 15 degrees in direct sunlight.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Check on friends, family, and neighbors who may not have air conditioning or who have health conditions that make them especially susceptible to the effects of heat at least twice per day.
- Never leave children or pets in unattended vehicles.
- If you must leave your pets outdoors, make sure they have shade and plenty of water.
There are also steps you can take to keep your home more comfortable on excessively hot days and reduce the stress on your cooling system.
- Install window air conditioners if you don’t have central air.
- Keeps curtains and blinds closed during the day.
- Install window reflectors that will reflect heat back outside.
- Keep storm windows up.
- Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air inside.
If you don’t have air conditioning, make a plan ahead of time for places you can go during periods of excessive heat. Malls, theaters, and libraries are great places to go. Many community centers are open as cooling centers during extreme heat. Even escaping the heat for just a few hours can be beneficial.