Does the idea of Climate Change overwhelm you? Do you want to make sure your family is safe, but are unsure of what the weather may look like tomorrow?
Let’s look at the facts. We know climate change can cause extreme, unpredictable weather patterns. But, to be prepared even if a dangerous situation arises, you can set a couple of easy parameters. The most dangerous events in the summer season are thunderstorms and flooding, extreme heat and humidity, and now, more airborne allergens than we have seen in the past.
Here are five quick tips to help ensure both you and your family are better prepared to deal with the unpredictable weather caused by climate change:
- Create a family or school emergency plan of where to go and what action to take during a thunderstorm.
- Keep a flashlight, bottles of water, extra batteries, and other non-perishable items in case of a power outage.
- Know when the days are going to be in the “danger zone” for ozone exposure:
- If possible, stay inside on these days as ozone exposure can lead to shortness of breath, induce asthma attacks, and increase susceptibility to lung infection according to the EPA.
- Be sure, if you are going to be outside, to wear light-colored clothing and hydrate regularly, drinking at least 8-10 cups of water per day.
- Communicate with your kids, teachers, and coaches about the warning signs and the treatment of a heat stroke:
- Cognitive Signs - slurred speech, confusion, and irritability.
- Physical Signs - not sweating, skin feels hot and dry to the touch.
- How to help - first, call “911”. Then, take the person to a cool place and use cold, wet towels to try cooling down their skin, have them sip water, and try to maintain consciousness.
- Be aware of airborne allergens:
- Allergens have become worse due to the increased average summertime temperatures. This significantly affects children because their lungs are less developed than an adult, they are smaller in size, and they have a higher respiratory rate. All of this combined means that children will have a higher exposure to allergens and irritation, which can exacerbate any seasonal allergies or asthma, even mild asthma.
- If your child has asthma, make sure they have their rescue inhaler (know how to use it!) and are taking their asthma maintenance medication as prescribed by their doctor.
- An easy way to lower the risk of airborne allergens is to shower or rinse off as soon as you come inside, and to change your clothes. This way, the allergens are not brought into the home, and you are not exposing yourself 100% of the time.
If you are interested in learning more, the CDC publishes excellent resources for managing heat-related illness and allergens. Just remember, children are more susceptible than adults to any change. Know your facts, have an action plan ready and execute it any time there is a threat of extreme weather.