HomeCommunity IssuesHow to protect your family from extreme heat this summer

How to protect your family from extreme heat this summer

By Kimberly Chang, Asian Health Services

Summer is well underway in California with counties across the state feeling the effects of extreme heat this past week and even hotter temperatures expected in the weeks to come. As a physician, community advocate and Californian, extreme heat events are highly concerning since I know that our most vulnerable Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations are at higher health risks during extreme heat conditions. 

We know that it disproportionally impacts those with medical conditions, older people, pregnant women, young children and individuals who primarily work outdoors.

This is critically important to the AAPI community since farming and working outdoors is common. For instance, according to the US Department of Agriculture, there are more than 4,600 Asian-operated farms in California with Fresno County, one of the counties in the state most affected by extreme heat, home to approximately 800 of those farms. In fact, the counties in California most affected by extreme heat boasts large AAPI communities with data estimating 661,666 AAPIs at risk of suffering from extreme heat, including 96,504 people ages 65 and older and 124,619 children who are ages 14 and under. 

While many may consider hot weather a normal part of summer, it is critically important to understand the risks extreme heat conditions can create and take precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones. California is going to continue to get hotter as summer continues. We must be prepared for hot weather and look out for one another during extreme heat events. 

Here are my top tips families can use to prepare for extreme heat:

  1. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. I recommend drinking at least two glasses, or 16 ounces, of water every hour to stay hydrated. While many Asians prefer to drink hot water, drinking room-temperature water during the warmer part of the day can help you stay cool. Plain water is best, although options like coconut water are better than sugar-sweetened beverages like soda or sports drinks. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as those beverages can dehydrate you further.
  2. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing to help your body stay cool. Consider wearing the lightweight, breathable fabrics commonly used in your cultural attire during warmer months to stay comfortable during extreme weather.
  3. Find ways to stay cool. Know where your local cooling center is located and where to find transportation to beat the heat if staying home is not an option. Setting your A/C to 75-80 degrees can ward off the hottest temperatures and help you stay cool. If air conditioning isn’t available, take extra precautions. The use of fans can help mitigate some heat, but high temperatures without humidity can make fans ineffective in properly cooling your body. Make sure your windows have blinds, or have extra towels, blankets, and sheets on hand to create a darker environment. 
  4. Avoid being outside in the direct heat for long periods of time, especially during peak hours when temperatures are the highest and the sun’s rays are strongest, between 10am and 4pm
  5. Check on family and friends, especially vulnerable individuals. Regularly check on older family members, friends, or neighbors to ensure they are staying cool and healthy during extreme heat.
  6. Never leave children or pets in parked vehicles. It may be a quick errand like stopping at a store for milk, but it is not worth the risk. Temperatures inside a parked car can quickly rise to dangerous levels within minutes, even with the windows cracked open, creating a very unhealthy and potentially deadly situation. I cannot stress this enough, don’t do it.

Remember, extreme heat conditions can turn deadly and create serious risks for anyone and vulnerable people. By staying informed, taking precautions, and looking out for one another, we can mitigate the risks and keep ourselves and our families safer this summer. 

Learn more about ways to protect yourself and others at HeatReadyCA.com

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Kimberly S.G. Chang, MD, MPH, is a Family Physician at Asian Health Services (AHS) in Oakland, California.

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Chinese translation provided by Asian Health Services:

這個夏天,通過採取預防措施保護自己和家人

來為預期降臨加州的酷暑做好準備

撰稿人:亞健社(Asian Health Services)Kimberly Chang醫生

加利福尼亞州已經正式步入夏季。全州各縣都在上周感受到了酷暑的影響,並且預計在未來幾周內天氣會更加炎熱。作為一名醫生、社區倡導者和加州人,我對酷暑天氣極為擔憂,因為我知道咱們最易受傷害的亞裔美國人太平洋島民(亞太裔)群眾在酷暑天氣中將面臨更高的健康風險。

雖然關於亞太裔社區在酷暑情況下的健康風險的數據有限,但是酷暑對我們健康所造成的影響並不令人意外。我們也知道,它會不成比例地影響我們最易受傷害的人群,比如患有疾病的人、老年人、孕婦、幼兒以及主要在戶外作業的人。

這對亞太裔社區至關重要,因為農耕和戶外作業是其普遍從事的勞動。例如,根據美國農業部的數據,在加州有超過4,600個亞裔經營的農場,其中弗雷斯諾縣是該州受酷暑影響最嚴重的縣之一,而約有800個亞裔經營的農場就位於該縣。事實上,加州受酷暑影響最嚴重的都擁有龐大的亞太裔社區, 並且數據估計661,666名亞太裔群眾面臨著遭受酷暑的風險,其中就包括96,504名65歲及以上的老年人和124,619名14歲及以下的兒童。

雖然很多人可能認為炎熱天氣是夏季的正常組成部分,但瞭解酷暑天氣可能帶來的風險,並採取預防措施來保護自己和親人是至關重要的。隨著夏季的持續,加州將變得更加炎熱。我們必須為高溫天氣做好準備,並在酷暑的日子裡互相照顧。

以下是我給各個家庭預防酷暑的首要建議:

  1. 飲水充足。即使您不感到口渴,一天之中也要喝足夠的水。我建議每小時至少喝兩杯,或16盎司的水來保持水分充足。雖然很多亞裔喜歡喝熱水,但在天氣較熱的時候,喝室溫水可以幫助保持涼爽。純水是最好的選擇,而椰子水等選項要好過像蘇打水或運動飲料這樣的含糖飲料。避免飲酒和咖啡因,因為這些飲料會讓您更加脫水。
  2. 穿寬鬆、輕薄和淺色的衣服,幫助身體保持涼爽。請考慮穿著您文化服飾中天熱時常用的、面料透氣輕便的衣服,從而在酷暑天氣中保持舒適。
  3. 找到保持涼爽的方法。瞭解當地避暑中心的所在位置。如果待在家裡不是可行選擇,要知道如何尋找交通工具去別處避暑。將空調設定在攝氏75-80度可以抵禦最炎熱的天氣,並幫助您保持涼爽。如果沒有空調,請採取額外的預防措施。使用風扇可以幫助散一些熱,但高溫乾燥的環境下風扇可能無法有效地降低體溫。確保您的窗戶有百葉窗,或者備有額外的毛巾、毯子和床單,以營造較暗的環境。
  4. 避免在直射陽光下長時間待在戶外特別是在溫度最高、太陽輻射最強的高峰時段,即上午10點至下午4點之間
  5. 關心家人和朋友,尤其是易受傷害的群體。定期關心一下年長的家人、朋友或鄰居,以確保他們在酷暑天氣中能夠保持涼爽與健康。
  6. 切勿將兒童或寵物留在停泊的車內。即使只是像去商店買牛奶那樣的快速差事,也不值得冒險。就算窗戶微開,停泊的車內溫度也可能在幾分鐘內就迅速上升到危險的水平,導致非常不健康甚至致命的情況。我再次強調,請您千萬不要這樣做。

請記住,酷暑天氣可能導致生命危險,並為任何人和易受傷害的群體帶來嚴重風險。通過及時瞭解情況、採取預防措施以及互相照顧,我們就可以降低風險,讓自己和家人在今年夏天更安全。

瞭解更多保護自己和他人的方法,請訪問HeatReadyCA.com

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醫學博士及公共衛生碩士Kimberly S.G. Chang是一位家庭醫生,就職於加州奧克蘭的亞健社(Asian Health Services)。

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