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Hot Weather Survival Guide: Tips and Tools for Heat Survival Emergencies

Did you know that every year in the United States, over 1,300 deaths occur as a result of extreme heat?

As the summer heats up, so do the hottest places across the United States. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), statistical projections show that average temperatures in the contiguous United States will rise. The analysis suggests that both extremely cold days and extremely warm days will experience an upward trend. Cold waves are anticipated to decrease in intensity, whereas heat waves are predicted to intensify.

Furthermore, the onset of 2023 saw a remarkable warmth across the United States, kicking the year off with the nation's sixth-hottest January on record at 5.1 degrees above average. As climate change continues to increase average temperatures, heat survival is more important than ever.

Extreme hot weather and heat waves can be more than just uncomfortable—they can pose serious risks too! These include heat exhaustion and dehydration. Thus, we've put together a hot weather survival guide to help you stay safe. Here are some essential tips on how to survive hot weather conditions, especially during an emergency.  

How To Survive Extreme Heat: Understanding the Risks of Extreme Heat

how to survive in extreme heat

When we're exposed to higher-than-usual temperatures, our body's ability to regulate its temperature becomes compromised. This can result in a range of heat-related illnesses; for instance, dehydration, exhaustion, cramps, stroke, and hyperthermia. 

Plus, extreme temperatures can also worsen existing chronic conditions, posing additional challenges to heat survival. These include heart, brain, and lung diseases, as well as diabetes-related health issues. 

Moreover, inadequate fluid intake during hot weather can lead to dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, fainting, etc. Thus, it is crucial to take extra precautions to protect your health and promote heat survival during extreme heat events.

Heat and Dehydration

Extreme hot weather can dehydrate you in several ways:

  • Firstly, when it's hot, your body sweats more to cool down, leading to fluid loss. If you don't drink enough water to replace what you've lost, you can become dehydrated.

  • Moreover, hot weather speeds up evaporation, causing moisture to leave your body faster. This rapid evaporation further reduces your body's water content, increasing the risk of dehydration.

  • Lastly, spending a long time in extreme heat can trick your body into not feeling thirsty, even when it actually needs hydration. This can be dangerous because you may not realize you're becoming dehydrated.


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Recent Impact of Extreme Heat

In the last summer, many cities experienced extremely high temperatures, breaking previous records. These include Seattle, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, and many more. 

Additionally, the summer events of 2021 in the Pacific Northwest also made it clear just how deadly heat waves can be. Hundreds of people in the United States and Canada lost their lives due to the extremely hot weather conditions. This is why, today, it has become more essential to learn how to survive extreme heat than ever before.

Prevention Is Key

To stay safe during extremely hot weather, prevention is key. By taking appropriate precautions, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from any serious situation. Here are some important tips on how to survive the heat:

Stay Hydrated 

stay hydrated

One of the most important aspects of heat survival is to stay well-hydrated. This is because dehydration can occur rapidly in hot weather, leading to dizziness, fatigue, and even heatstroke. 

Thus, drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty. However, avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration.

Limit Outdoor Activities

During peak heat hours, typically between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., minimize your time spent outdoors. If you must be outside, seek shade whenever possible and take frequent breaks in cool or air-conditioned areas.

Dress Appropriately 

Opt for lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in light colors that reflect sunlight and allow air circulation. Avoid dark-colored clothing that absorbs heat. 

Additionally, avoid direct exposure to the sun, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Stay in shaded areas or use umbrellas, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun's rays.

Plan Ahead 

In emergency situations where power outages or flooding prevent access to refrigeration, finding safe and suitable food options becomes a critical aspect of heat survival. Thus, we recommend stocking up on non-perishable foods and survival food kits in case of power outages or disruptions to food availability during extreme heat events.

Limit Physical Activity 

Minimize any strenuous physical activities, such as exercising or lifting heavy things, during the hottest times of the day. If you need to exercise, schedule it for the cooler mornings or evenings when the temperature is lower.

Stay Informed 

Keep track of weather forecasts and pay attention to heatwave warnings issued by local authorities. This will help you plan your activities accordingly and take necessary precautions ahead of time. 

Check on Vulnerable Individuals 

Keep an eye on elderly people, young children, and those with chronic illnesses or mobility issues. This is because they are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Offer help to them and ensure they have access to a cool environment and enough fluids.

Never Leave Children or Pets in Parked Vehicles 

Temperatures inside a parked car can skyrocket within minutes on hot and humid days and become life-threatening. Thus, you should never leave children, pets, or other vulnerable individuals unattended in a vehicle, even for a short period.

Install Heat-Blocking Window Films

Heat-blocking window films can help reduce the amount of heat that enters your home through your windows. These films are super easy to apply and work wonders in reducing the amount of heat that sneaks in through your windows, especially during hot weather. 

Just take a quick look at your windows and figure out which ones get hit by the morning or afternoon sunshine, and simply cover them with these films. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Did you know that according to FEMA, using outdoor awnings or louvers can cut down heat entering your home by a whopping 80 percent? That's some serious relief from the scorching heat!

Use Fans and Ventilation 

Create airflow within your living space by utilizing fans or opening windows during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Cross-ventilation can help circulate fresh air around the house and provide relief. 

Stay Hydrated with Cool Treats 

freeze dried fruits to beat the heat

Enjoy cool treats like popsicles, rehydrated freeze-dried fruits, or chilled beverages to help regulate your body temperature and keep you hydrated.

Be Mindful of Your Body 

Pay attention to your body's signals. If you experience symptoms such as dizziness, rapid heartbeat, nausea, confusion, or headache, it may indicate heat exhaustion or heatstroke. In such situations, move to a cooler place, rest, and seek medical attention if necessary.

See Related: DIY First Aid Kit Items and Checklist

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Ways to Cool Down

When faced with extreme heat, it's important to find ways to cool down and lower your body temperature. Here are some effective ways to cool down:

Seek Air-Conditioned Spaces 

Air conditioning is a lifesaver during extreme heat. If you don't have access to air conditioning at home, consider spending time in public places that offer air conditioning if they’re available; for instance, shopping malls, libraries, coffee shops, local museums, or community centers.  

Cut Down On Extra Heat

Did you know that incandescent light bulbs can actually make your place warmer? It's true! So, try using energy-efficient bulbs instead. Also, remember to turn off your computers and appliances when you're not using them. They can give off a lot of heat too!

Cool Showers and Wet Towels 

Taking cool showers or baths can also help lower your body temperature. You can also try wetting a towel with cool water and placing it on your neck, forehead, or other pulse points. This will provide you instant relief from the heat. Additionally, you can also use a misting spray bottle filled with water to lightly spray your face and body for a cooling sensation.

Head Downstairs

Did you know that hot air tends to rise? That's why the upper floors of a house are usually warmer than the ground floor. So, if you're feeling the heat of the midday sun, just retreat to the cool and comfortable refuge of the basement. It's the perfect place to escape heat waves and relax!

Using Food as a Solution

freeze dried fruit

During emergencies like power outages or flooding that disrupt refrigeration, the danger of heat becomes even more serious. Without air conditioning or proper cooling, people face significant risks from extreme heat.

In such situations, having emergency food supplies becomes essential. These supplies are not only important for nourishment but also for addressing the difficulties of maintaining food safety and preventing spoilage. 

Non-perishable food items that require minimal cooking or refrigeration are ideal for emergencies. They can sustain individuals and families during power outages or when traditional food storage methods are unavailable. 

Here are some emergency food supplies that can help you survive the heat and stay well-fed in any emergency situation:

The Valley Food Storage Freeze-Dried Fruit Bucket 

Contains a variety of nutritious fruits that have been freeze-dried to keep their flavor and nutritional value. These fruits provide a refreshing and hydrating snack option during hot weather. Simply rehydrate them with water, and you have a delicious and cooling treat to help beat the heat. It is a must-have for hot weather survival.

The Valley Food Storage Family Survival Kit

Provides a variety of dehydrated and freeze-dried meals that offer essential nutrients and energy. With a long shelf life and easy preparation, this kit ensures you have reliable food options during extreme heat when regular cooking may be challenging.

The Valley Food Storage 7-Day Survival Food Kit

It is an excellent product to have on hand during heat waves when it's advisable to stay indoors. By having this kit readily available, you can minimize the need to go out and expose yourself to scorching temperatures. Stay safe and well-nourished with this convenient emergency food supply. 

Store Water for Cooking and Hydration

While focusing on food options, don't overlook the importance of storing an ample supply of clean drinking water for cooking and hydration purposes. Water is crucial for your overall well-being, and during emergencies, access to safe drinking water may be limited. 

Thus, we recommend storing enough water for each person in your household. Simply follow the general guideline of one gallon per person per day. 

Consider having a reliable water storage solution, such as water storage drums, and/or implementing an off-grid water system. These measures can guarantee a consistent and accessible clean water supply during emergencies.

The Takeaways for How to Survive Extreme Heat

  • Heat survival requires both preparation and adaptation. 

  • Understanding the dangers of heat waves is crucial to staying safe.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking ample water. 

  • Seek shade and wear lightweight clothes. 

  • Minimize outdoor activities in peak heat. 

  • During emergencies like power outages or flooding, having emergency food supplies is crucial for nourishment and food safety due to the lack of air conditioning or cooling.