Heatwaves are prolonged periods of hot weather usually accompanied by high humidity. Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in heatwaves due to global warming. Countries such as Pakistan and India have been most affected, with temperatures rising above 50 degrees Celsius in most parts.
Heatwaves are caused when hot air or radiations from the sun are trapped inside the atmosphere. In most parts of the world, population exposure to heatwaves is due to climate change. According to WHO, 125 million people were affected due to heatwaves from 2000 to 2016. The number has been much higher in recent years.
Heatwaves can cause serious health problems, and trigger water shortage issues and power breakouts. Additionally, there are chances of food shortages, as extreme heats affect crops and livestock. Therefore, it is essential to adopt certain preventive measures to cool down the surroundings.
Graana.com, Pakistan’s smartest property portal, presents a guide to cooling down your home during heatwaves.
Health Problems Caused During Heatwaves
The impact of heatwaves is mainly dependent on the duration and intensity of the hot weather. However, factors such as preparedness, infrastructure, and adaptation by the population also add to the overall impact.
Extreme sweating is one of the major problems caused by the heatwaves. It causes dehydration, which becomes a cause of several other health problems. The following are some health conditions caused due to heatwaves:
- Heat stroke
- Swelling in lower limbs
- Heat rashes on the neck
- Lethargy and weakness
- Severe dehydration
- Acute cerebrovascular (when blood flow in the brain can be affected)
- Thrombogenesis (when blood clots can block blood vessels)
However, these symptoms or conditions may vary from person to person. To reduce the impact of heatwaves, certain measures are essential.
Measures to Cool Down Homes During Heatwaves
Urban heating is one of the major problems in cities. It is caused due to narrow areas and concrete buildings, which absorb heat and do not let it escape the atmosphere. The result is a rise in temperatures.
The roofs of buildings mostly absorb heat and radiation from the sun, which causes a rise in the temperature inside the building.
Let’s discuss the measures to reduce the impact of heatwaves:
- Reduce heat from the roofs
- Keep curtains and blinds shut
- Circulate cool air inside the building
- Switch off electronic equipment
- Grow plants inside and outside the building
Reduce Heat from the Roofs
During summers, the temperature rise inside the building is mostly due to the roof; it absorbs heat and pushes it down to the inside space, causing high humidity. A traditional roof absorbs more heat than a ‘cool roof’, which contributes to air conditioning and higher energy costs.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a roof’s capacity to reflect solar heat and release absorbed heat (emissivity) determines the effectiveness of roofs during extremely hot weather. Therefore, the first step to cooling down homes during heatwaves is to reduce heat on roofs.
The following strategies can enhance this capability:
- Roll out bitumen layer with white paint
- Use single-ply membrane
- Place Build Up Roofing (BUR)
- Apply roof cooling coatings
- Use metal sheets
- Use the perfect shingles
- Build rooftop gardens
- Use ballasted roofing systems
Keep Curtains and Blinds Shut
It is important to use a proper ventilation system during summers as it will allow the heat to pass out from the building. Therefore, keeping windows open and curtain and blinds shut can help a great deal.
This will ensure lesser chances of rising temperatures inside the building and their effects, like dry skin and respiratory problems.
Circulate Cool Air Inside the Building
Keeping blinds and curtains shut, however, is not enough to prevent the impact of hot air. It is essential to keep the interior cool as well. Using a centralised air-cooling system inside the building can help circulate cool air equally in various parts of the building and keep the temperature in control.
Installing a centralised air-cooling system might be a more costly option, but it will eventually help you survive the harsh summer conditions.
Switch Off Electronic Equipment
Most people are unaware of the heating effect caused by electronic appliances at home. Devices such as refrigerators, ovens, electric stoves, and computers release heat and radiation, which increase temperatures inside the building. Therefore, it is necessary to switch off these devices when they are not in use.
Grow Plants Inside and Outside the Building
One of the most important strategies that can be adapted to cool down the temperature inside the building is to cool down the surrounding. In urban areas, there are fewer plants and gardens, which is why they are hotter than in rural areas. Therefore, growing plants and vegetation can help lower the temperature of the surroundings.
Plants reduce the surface area exposed directly to the sunlight and, consequently, reduce surrounding temperatures. Moreover, they help to cool down the environment through evaporation and transpiration.
Rooftop gardens are modern ways to reduce external heat. Another technique is to grow plants and vines on the walls. Vines cover the walls and help reduce the temperature.
All these measures can help a great deal to cool down the building during extreme heatwaves.
Personal Protection Measures
Apart from the above external measures, measures for personal protection are also essential, such as the following:
- Drink more water to prevent dehydration
- Stay inside during peak temperatures
- Try to wear more light-coloured, cotton clothes
- Wear protection equipment e.g. sunglasses, sunblock, etc.
- Have cool showers
Just like humans, birds also suffer from the scorching heat. Most cannot find shelters and water or food resources to save themselves. Therefore, it is also essential to take the following measures to save birds from extreme conditions:
- Build nests and shelters for birds
- Keep water and food outside your home
Build Nests and Shelters for Birds
Most birds are unable to find new, cooler spots to build nests during heatwaves. Therefore, building shelters in places of shades can help them survive these harsh conditions. These should be easily accessible to migrating or displaced birds.
Keep Water and Food Sources Outside Your Home
Hot conditions cause water in reservoirs to evaporate, leaving birds with no drinking water. Moreover, due to effects on crops and livestock, there is food depletion.. So, to help them survive these harsh conditions, food and water sources should be kept outside and refilled regularly.
For more information about heatwaves and preventive measures, visit Graana Blog.