Do I Actually Need to Prepare?

"Really?" heatwave preparedness GIF

Heat waves disproportionally affect sensitive populations, and if no one you love falls into one of those categories, you may be fine without preparation. The fact that you’re reading this, though, means you are prep-minded, and your preparation could be life-saving for your at-risk neighbors (or even you) when the inevitable heat wave arrives. And preparing now means you’ll beat the panic-buying crowds at the big box store, so it’s actually a double win.

Where Do Heat Waves Occur?

Thanks to the effects of climate change and increased worldwide emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, heat waves are increasing in intensity and frequency across the globe. You’ll find records of heat waves with increasing frequency on every continent, including–to our great horror–Antarctica. In early 2022, surface temperatures in Antarctica were nearly 70°F higher than the previous year.

Basically, you are not exempt from the possibility of a heat wave, even if you are an Antarctic penguin.

Who Needs to Be Ready?

Regardless of location, high temperatures pose the biggest risk to these groups:

  • The elderly
  • Children and infants
  • Those with underlying health complications

These vulnerable groups are all at the greatest risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. They and/or their caregivers should take extra care to prepare for heat waves.

Heat waves are most common during summer in temperate climate zones. However, rising global temperatures mean they’re now common in spring and fall as well. Check the map below to see how many countries are in temperate zones. HOW FUN. People living in these zones should be extra cautious. While tropical climate zones experience less temperature fluctuation overall (and therefore fewer heat waves), residents in these areas should still be prepared to be hotter than a very hot thing that is hot, since extremely high heat is always a health risk, even if it’s not an official heat wave.

Heatwave prone area map for heatwave preparedness

Your neighborhood may also increase your risk. You may have heard of the Urban Heat Island Effect, which is why cities are usually warmer than less dense areas: concrete, asphalt, large buildings, and generally unbroken urban sprawl absorb and reflect heat more than trees and grass do. If you’re a city-dweller, make sure you’re prepared for higher temperatures.

TLDR: Yes, you actually need to prepare. So how do you do it?

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.