This Is The Most Important Thing To Do To Prep For A Heat Wave, According To Science

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With temperatures climbing into the triple digits in many parts of the country this weekend, knowing how to prepare for a heat wave is likely your top priority. If you have central air, you're probably planning to spend your weekend indoors marathoning Netflix. If you don't, your plans might include a lot of sweating and searching for a pool where you can stay cool. No matter how you spend your weekend of summer swelter, staying hydrated is the best way to avoid any heat-related illnesses.

"It’s important that people drink regularly — definitely when thirsty, but not just when thirsty — if they are in extreme heat," Dr. Laura Burke, an emergency medicine physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told TIME magazine. She recommended drinking two glasses of water an hour, especially if you're outdoors so you can reduce your chances of getting heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Keep a big reusable water bottle with you so you can stay hydrated on the go.

If guzzling two glasses of water an hour doesn't feel attainable, try eating hydrating foods instead. Things like watermelon, lettuce, cucumbers, strawberries, celery, and tons of other foods are actually full of water, which makes them ideal snacks during an oppressive heatwave. And, because they're dehydrating by nature, it's also a good idea to avoid caffeine and alcohol.


If you're wondering how bad it's going to get, AccuWeather reported that temperatures in some areas of the U.S. will be 15-20 degrees above average, and high humidity means it could feel up to 10 degrees hotter than it actually is. Basically, this weekend it's going to feel like you're living inside of hell's mouth. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to make it suck less.

First thing's first. If you don't already have blackout curtains, go get yourself some ASAP. Aside from turning your apartment into a dark cave, blackout curtains also block heat, which means your pad won't get as hot. Second, remember that ice is your best friend during a heatwave, and there are a lot of ways you can use it to stay cool and comfortable. If you have trouble sleeping when it's hot, put your sheets in the freezer a few hours before you go to bed, and pull them out right before you go to sleep. While they won't stay cool all night, they will stay cold long enough for your to slip off into dreamland.

You can also lie on ice packs, or rub ice cubes on your wrists and neck throughout the day. Along those same lines, it's time to embrace cold showers. While cold showers usually feel like a punishment, they are a gift during a heatwave. Take a cold shower when you first wake up and right before going to bed to help lower your body temperature.

A lot of people neglect to buy fans until they need them. If you're one of these people, you might be out of luck because many stores sell out of fans when it's hot, so put your Amazon order in as soon as you remember. If you need to find a place to get cool, going to the movies is a great way to spend a few hours in an ice-cold room while also being entertained. If you're cash poor, you can hang out at your local library for free and catch up on your reading.

If you have any kind of medical condition, and you can spend the weekend holed up with your air conditioner, do it. "Hospitalizations go up during times of heatwaves, and it’s not just for things like heat stroke," Burke warned. "Other medical conditions can be exacerbated as well. It’s important that people who have baseline vulnerabilities have others around them to help them in times of extreme heat."

Additionally, if you have a pet, remember that they don't have the option of taking off their fur coats. Make sure Fluffy and Fido have access to water at all times — you can even give them ice cubes. Fill a spray bottle with ice water and spray your pets down a few times a day, and put a wet bandanna around your dog's neck (you can also do this to yourself). With a little deodorant and a lot of water, you can weather this early summer heatwave like a boss.