The coming summer months in the United States will be extremely hot, according to the authorities. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that in April this year, the contiguous U.S. had an average temperature of 51.9 degrees Fahrenheit which is nine degrees hotter than average in the 20th-century.
Risk of Water Shortage
Summer is a good time to stay cool in the pool, however, the impending risk of water shortages compels us to conserve water. It is unfortunate that with the hot weather comes drought. According to NOAA, rainfall in the contiguous U.S. was only 2.03 inches in April which is almost half an inch less than average. This was the most parched April since 1989, placing 14th in the previous 127 years on record.
Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) as of March 23, 2021 show that drought has spread to almost 50 percent of the country, with areas that are abnormally dry to areas that are in exceptional drought. Since 2020, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada were in severe and exceptional drought. As of May 2021, drought worsened in Utah, Washington, Montana, Oregon, and California.
The nation’s water reservoirs have less than average levels because of the lack of rain and low snowpack. The snowpack in the four Upper Basin states for the Colorado River—Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico—are down to 67 percent of average and the runoff from its melting will not be enough for Lake Powell which only had 44 percent of its normal inflow since October 2020. Lake Powell provides water to 40 million people as the second-largest reservoir in the nation. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reminded these states to implement the Upper Basin Drought Contingency Plan when needed.
The Conversation reports that the Bureau of Reclamation also raised the possibility of declaring a federal water shortage that will restrict water usage is the level of the Lake Mead reservoir falls in June. Also, on the Colorado River, this reservoir likewise provides water to millions.
As of May 10, the level of the total Lower Colorado reservoir system is down to 43 percent compared to 52 percent last year. Along the Rio Grande, the largest reservoir of New Mexico is at 12 percent. In Arizona, the total reservoir system is at 73 percent compared to 98 percent last year.
In California, the Lake Shasta reservoir is at 48 percent of average while the Lake Oroville reservoir is at 41 percent of average. These are the two largest reservoirs in the state. California declared a drought emergency in 41 counties out of 58. The Bureau of Reclamation has stopped water supply for farms on the Oregon-California border.
Keep the Home Temperature Low
Conserve whatever little rainfall there is by preparing rainwater catchments. You can use the saved rainwater to spray the outside walls of the house to help lower the temperature during blazing weather. You can also do this on concrete pavements surrounding the house to reduce the heat that radiates upwards.
Make sure to have regular air conditioner maintenance so that your air conditioner will always be in good working order. It can be hazardous to your health if it breaks down on days with severe heat.
Replace your windowpanes with specially coated glass that keeps the heat out. Supplement these with reflectors placed outside windows. You can make these yourself using aluminum foil. Inside, use drapes, curtains, blinds, or shades that are also specially treated to reflect heat to the outside.
Paint your roof white to reflect the heat away from the house. Install an exhaust fan in your attic to pull hot air out from inside the house. If you do not have an attic, install this on the highest portion of the wall.
Personal Care in Summer
Take cool baths or showers every day or several times a day to regulate body temperature. Wear as little clothing as possible, in lightweight materials and light colors.
Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water. Avoid from spicy food and eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those with high water content.
Avoid staying under the sun on hot days. Find shade or stay indoors in airconditioned places.
Health Risks and Emergency Management
Be alert for any signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. According to Ready.gov, heat can cause leg, arm, or stomach cramps. In the case of exhaustion, the victim is pale, weak, tired, dizzy, nauseous, sweats heavily, and has a headache. The victim can vomit and faint.
You must move the victim to a cooler place, give cool water to drink, remove extra clothing, and wet the victim with water. If there is no improvement after an hour, seek medical help.
In the case of heat stroke, the victim is dizzy and confused, with a strong and rapid pulse. The skin is dry, hot, and red but there is no sweating. The victim’s oral temperature will be over 103 degrees Fahrenheit or 39.4 degrees Celsius, and the victim can fall unconscious. The victim needs emergency room care. On the way to the hospital or while waiting for a ride, douse the victim with cool water.
Keep Calm and Keep Cool
It is crucial to prepare and preempt any possible heat-related hazards in the coming summer months. Heatstroke can be fatal, but it is completely preventable.
The most vulnerable to heat are infants, toddlers, the elderly, pregnant women, people with obesity, and people with major illnesses. If you have any of them in your household, you still have time to make the necessary preparations and precautions.