How to be a Good Neighbor During a Heat Wave


santa-clara-county-department-public-health-hot-weather-safety-flierIt’s hot here in the San Francisco Bay Area this week, with temps spiking in the triple digits in some inland areas. Cooler weather is not expected until Friday, July 5, which is prompting public health directors from counties in the region to issue health warnings to residents.

While it’s important for each of us to keep ourselves cool, it’s equally important to look out for others in our communities who may need extra help during a heat wave. Here are a few ways that you can help:

  • Check in on any elderly or frail people you know in your community often, and make sure they are remaining cool, and well hydrated. The elderly, infants, people with chronic diseases, and people with mental illness are the most vulnerable during excessive heat. Check with your local city or county government for cooling centers for the elderly and people with chronic diseases; most senior centers are equipped for this circumstance.
  • Know the warning signs for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has a well-written information sheet you can download; it comes in English, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Call 911 if you think someone is in distress.
  • Be on the lookout for people or animals left in parked cars, and get help immediately.
  • Make sure animals have access to plenty of water in a shady area.
  • Limit your appliance and any large power usage to nighttime, so as to reduce the overall demand on the power grid. Too much demand for power during the day could lead to major blackouts.
  • Join with your neighbors at shopping malls, movie theaters, libraries, and other public places with air conditioning.
  • If you must work outdoors, use a buddy system. Check on your co-worker or buddy often for symptoms of heat-related illnesses, like disorientation and unconsciousness, and have that person do the same for you. Get anyone with symptoms (see link above) to a shady, cool area, and call 911.

What are some other ways you can help others during a heat wave? Tell us in the Comments section!