How to Make a Heat Wave Preparedness Kit

A/C will only take you so far! If the air conditioning breaks or the power goes out, you’ll need a back up plan. You may have already learned how to make an earthquake preparedness kit or a go bag. This kit is similar, with some specific additions to mitigate the threat of heat illness.

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Consider this your go-to heat wave preparedness kit, but note that you may need to add certain items for your particular situation. As a best practice, store enough supplies to survive for at least 72 hours without power.

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  • Extra water – Bottled water is a must, as it’s not unheard of for public water mains to break during blistering heat waves. Plan for one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Non-perishable food – If the power grid goes down, so will your perishables. Keep shelf-ready foods on hand as a precaution.
  • Medications – Keep a supply of needed medications on hand during any emergency, and be aware of their temperature limitations. Some medications must stay within a specific temperature range to maintain their effectiveness. If you have medical equipment that requires power, you will need a generator or other source of power.
  • Sunblock – Heat wave systems reduce cloud coverage and usually feature high levels of radiation. Protect yourself from the sun when you’re outdoors.
  • Sun-blocking gear – We’re talking hats, sunglasses, long sleeve clothing, umbrellas, and anything else you can reasonably use to block the sun’s rays.
  • Extra towels – Use them as sun protection or soak them in water to cool yourself down.
  • Cups/Straws – If needed, keep extra cups and straws on hand to make hydration a little easier, especially for kids.
  • Battery-powered hand fan – If the power grid goes down, a battery-powered fan can provide some much-needed relief.
  • Manual fan – Old school! Any stiff paper could do the trick in a pinch, but you’ll want something reliable to keep air moving over your face.
  • Battery-powered radio – Similarly, battery-powered radios let you tune into local weather alerts without the need for electricity.
  • Cooler for ice – If your freezer goes out, a cooler with store-bought ice can be an effective way to preserve foods, keep medicines stable, or create soothing ice packs.
  • Plastic bags/ties – Plastic bags serve many functions and are good to have on hand. Consider making individual ice packs to give everyone in the family some relief when the A/C goes out.
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Use your kit at home as needed, but if anyone in your household is at-risk, make a plan to go to a cooling center if temps get too high for their comfort.

Update Your Kit Over Time

Like any disaster preparedness kit, you’ll want to update your supplies over time to be sure they’re ready when needed.

  • Replace food and water periodically
  • Check the expiration date of medications
  • Make sure sunblock hasn’t expired
  • Swap old batteries with new ones (and remember to remove batteries from appliances when not in use)

Keeping any emergency kit up-to-date is the best way to create peace of mind, regardless of which disasters come your way.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.