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The last several years have seen record-breaking heat waves sweep, both in California and the rest of the country. Thanks to global warming, climate scientists are predicting that summers are only going to get hotter.

What Is a Heat Wave?

If you live in California, you might be wondering what qualifies as a heat wave and what's normal summer warmth. According to experts, hot weather qualifies as a heat wave when temperatures remain above 90 degrees for at least 2-3 days.

How To Make Sure You're Ready for a California Heat Wave

Heat waves are uncomfortable for most people, but they can be particularly dangerous for older adults, children, and individuals who are sick or overweight. Even people who are healthy can suffer from heat-related illness if they don't prepare themselves properly.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for the next heat wave that hits California. Below is a checklist of important heat wave safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Have a source of air conditioning. Most modern homes have air conditioning. However, in the event that yours doesn't (or it stops working due to a heat-related power outage), have a backup plan for where you'll go when temperatures start to rise. That might be a friend's house or a public facility like a library. If no immediate options come to mind, check out California's database of Cooling Centers.
  • Have plenty of water on hand. Heat-related power outages can result in reduced access to water in your home. Stock up on a case of water bottles, or buy a 5-gallon jug and keep it filled at all times.
  • Equip yourself properly. If you have to go outdoors during a heat wave, experts recommend wearing clothes that are light-colored and loose-fitting, sunscreen, and a hat. Be sure to stock up on these things in advance so you're not caught off guard when the heat wave hits.
  • Weatherize your home. A home that is properly insulated with well-functioning appliances will be much more comfortable in a heat wave. Plus, having your air conditioner and other appliances maintained regularly will reduce their risk of breaking down when they're put to the test during a heat wave. Take care of any repairs that you've been putting off, or look into weatherization assistance programs in your area.

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Contact us to learn more about our services, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!