Be prepared: heat and hurricanes on the way

Published 4:56 pm Friday, May 27, 2022

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As June gets closer and closer, so does the summer heat and hurricane season. It’s something we have to brace ourselves for every year.

Summer is my favorite season, but even I don’t enjoy melting like the Wicked Witch of the West when I step outside or worrying over damage that a strong hurricane might bring.

I was just reading on NPR recently about a new study conducted by scientists from Denmark. Their data, collected from smart watches and wristbands of participants across the world, showed that when it’s hotter at night, people have more trouble falling asleep than usual. (I can attest that when it’s hotter than normal, I also do not sleep well. But then again, I can’t sleep when it’s too cold either!) The scientists went on to predict that if climate change continues unchecked and greenhouse gases continue to build up, then each person might average two weeks of temperature-related short sleep per year.

Of course, sleep isn’t the only thing in our bodies affected by hot weather. When hotter than normal temperatures strike, we have to be careful to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Just recently, while shuffling around furniture on an extremely hot day, I felt like I was getting pretty close to heat exhaustion myself! It was not a fun experience.

Whether we’re out and about playing sports or gardening or fishing on the river this summer, or doing any sort of active exercise, we should make sure we know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do in those situations.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, cold and pale and clammy skin, fast or weak pulse, nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, tiredness or weakness, dizziness, headache, and fainting (passing out).

If someone is experiencing those symptoms, the things to do in response include moving to a cool place, loosening your clothes, putting cool wet cloths on your body or taking a cool bath, and sipping water. If a person is throwing up or their symptoms continue worsening, seek medical help right away.

Heat stroke is the more serious and life-threatening heat-related illness, and you should call 911 right away if someone is experiencing heat stroke. You should also move the person to a cooler place and help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath. Do not give them anything to drink.

To identify signs of heat stroke, be on the lookout for high body temperature (103 degrees or higher), hot or red or dry or damp skin (no sweating), fast and strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and losing consciousness (passing out).

There are some precautions we can take to try to avoid heat-related illnesses. Those recommendations include wearing appropriate clothing (loose-fitting and lightweight), staying in the air conditioning as much as possible, resting often (especially in shady areas if you’re outside), wearing sunscreen, and drinking plenty of fluids.

While we should be wary of taking care of ourselves in the summer heat, we should also prepare for the annual hurricane season as well, which officially runs from June 1 to November 30 each year (though storms have a habit of popping up outside that time frame as well).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an “above-average” number of storms for the seventh year in a row. Some of that is due to regular climate patterns like “La Niña,” but human-caused climate change is also a factor for the abundance of stronger storms.

Even though forecasting technology keeps improving every year to give us advanced warning of hurricanes as they approach, weather can still be extremely unpredictable. It’s always a good idea to be prepared ahead of time, instead of scrambling the day before a hurricane arrives on your doorstep.

A basic supply kit should include not only essentials like food and water, but also other useful items such as a battery-powered radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a can opener, local maps, a change of clothes, personal hygiene items, copies of important documents in a waterproof container, and anything else that may be useful to you during an emergency situation.

It may also be a good idea to identify where emergency shelters are located in case of evacuation. And if you’ve moved to a new home recently, you should figure out the safest place to be inside your house in case of a tornado or other dangerous storm activity.

Climate change is definitely having an impact on weather all around the world, in both predictable and unpredictable ways. And if we’re not going to be able to stop or reverse it, we should at least try to be as prepared as possible for when dangerous weather comes. So please take care of yourselves as the summer brings us heatwaves and hurricanes.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.