Heat Waves: What is Happening Around the World and What Can We Do?


On 28th of June, Portland StreetCar cable melted due to heat waves in Oregon. People are frying eggs outside their houses, taking seven cold showers a day and roads are cracking.

The heat waves of 2021 is said to be dangerous as it hits as high as 116 degrees Fahrenheit in Canada. In the US, the North West is having a critical situation with people collapsing from hot weather.

Three-digit weather in Washington State, Oregon, and Canada show that we are experiencing a serious climate change that could be dangerous not only to our health but to animals and the environment as well.

You might be wondering, what is happening and why? This article will talk about heat waves, what has happened recently, the impacts on humans, how we can overcome extreme heat and what we can do to prevent it or reduce it in the future.

What are Heat Waves?

Heat waves are considered a period of hot days, usually lasting about 2 to 3 days. They are usually caused by trapped hot air due to climate change. Heat waves can harm humans, the environment and animals greatly due to its extreme nature. In the next section, we will talk about the threats of heat waves and its effects on the environment and humans.

The Threats of Heat Waves

heat waves droughts dry weather
Just like the case of Portland StreetCar cable incident, heat waves can cause damage to the infrastructures. This can be extremely dangerous for people as if our infrastructure collapses, we would experience more incidents where global warming and climate lead to disasters similar to the Miami condo collapse. Heat from these heat waves during the day will be trapped in the building, which can lead to chemicals to melt or become deformed, making the buildings and infrastructure extremely dangerous for everyday life.

It can also cause droughts and dry atmosphere which can create wildfires that damages our environment. Since heat dries up the environment, droughts will force animals to migrate or even take away their lives as they are unable to get water for their survival. Even if they manage to survive, heat waves can cause wildfires due to the dry conditions, which destroys their habitat and food sources. Not only animals are affected by droughts and fires. Our agriculture can suffer from extreme heat and lack of water. Especially if they are big fields that use natural water sources to grow.

The effects of heat waves for humans include heat stroke, breathing problems, and so on. The fumes and particles of wildfires are harmful to human lungs. Humans can also suffer from heat strokes and breathing problems as our bodies would not be able to adjust to these extreme high temperature conditions.

If you are interested in other effects of heat wave, read this article on Great Barrier Reef.

How Can We Deal with Heat Waves?

heat waves human drinking water

With temperatures rising all around the world, here’s some tips to overcome them and help you this summer.

Drink Before You are Thirsty

Our brains have delays in understanding what is happening to our bodies. This means that when we are feeling thirsty, our body is already dehydrated. Therefore, drinking water constantly to stay hydrated is an important step to make sure we do not get affected by the heat.

Switch Up Lunch with Lighter Meals

If you know that you are going to be out in the sun that afternoon, try not to fill up your stomach with food that will need a lot of energy to digest such as burgers or greasy food. Instead, have balanced meals with enough protein and fiber to keep yourself balanced for the day.

Keep Your House Ventilated

When staying indoors, try to keep two windows, front and back, open if you are using a fan or not using any air conditioning. Air can get trapped inside the house if there is no exit. Especially during the heat waves when the wind is practically hot air. Keep the air in your house circulating, by opening up alternative windows that are vertically aligned or use a boxed or ceiling fan to keep the fresh cool wind flowing.

What Can We Do to Prevent it?

Sunny heat waves
What can we do to ensure that we do not encounter more heat waves in the future?

Reduce CO2

Global warming is one of the biggest causes of heat waves. By reducing the amount of CO2 emission, we can reduce the temperature of the Earth to prevent heat waves from happening. Try walking or taking a bicycle instead of the car. Get energy efficient electronic gadgets in the house.

Plant Trees

preventing heat waves planting trees
If you live in a house with an open garden, plant trees to increase the oxygen levels as well as provide shade during the hot times. It takes about 2 to 3 years for a tree to be able to provide shade for you. However, growing plants produce oxygen at night, which is an important element to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. While the result might not be instant, it is never too late to start growing one to provide you with a better environment in the coming years.

Switch Up the Roofs

Our roofs can help us through and prevent heat waves from happening. One way is to change the color of the roof from darker colors to white. This helps heat from getting trapped in the roofs, which is likely to affect our houses during the heat waves.

Another way is to have solar panels on the roofs that can provide us with the energy we need without having to generate CO2. Take advantage of the heat while preventing worsening heat waves. Changing to green roofs can also help tackle the heat waves. Rooftop gardening can help absorb the heat during the day and provide oxygen for the Earth as well as food for families.

Be Prepare and Take the Needed Steps

It is only the start of summer but we are already experiencing extreme heat conditions which are going to last for several more months. Understanding the nature of heat waves and taking the necessary precautions is important to overcome the heat waves. Be prepared to fight the heat indoors and outdoors by staying hydrated and keeping the air flow going. Drink up, stay cool, dress light, and enjoy the summer!

Want to know what to wear during heat waves? Here is some ethical shirts that can keep you cool during the heat waves!

Author: Thiri Zaw Yazawa
Challenging myself to start small for bigger changes every day because there is no planet B.