Light clothing and plenty of water: tips for staying safe during this weekend’s heatwave

With record heat expected to hit the area this weekend, organizations in and around Boston are gearing up to help those in need.

Boston has declared a thermal emergency and will open cooling centers across the city. (Find the details here.) Many other communities are expected to follow suit.

Boston and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation also announced that swimming pools, spray parks and wading pools will be open to help bring relief. Click here for the list specific to the city of Boston, and here for DCR locations across the state.

The forecast for this weekend is not normal, according to Dr Gaurab Basu, a health equity researcher at the Cambridge Health Alliance.

“I’m worried about this, the fact that we have such intense heat at the start of the year,” he said. “It’s important for us to connect the dots that climate change makes days like this more likely.”


Here’s a little more background on the heat event from WBUR environmental reporter Miriam Wasser:


Basu said the extreme heat poses a range of health risks.

“Things I’m thinking about are increased risk of cardiovascular disease, increased risk of stroke, increased risk of dysregulated diabetes,” he said.

Basu said people should stay hydrated and stay indoors where it’s cooler. And if you start to feel nauseous or dizzy, seek emergency medical attention.

Anyone who begins to feel dizzy or has symptoms of heat-related illnesses must seek medical attention. Paramedics will be there to help assess and treat people through the weekend and beyond, according to Boston EMS Assistant Superintendent Len Shubitowski.

If the signs of heat stroke and exhaustion are not taken care of, things can get very serious.

“If you’re not careful and start intervening, your body loses the ability or exceeds its ability to stay cool,” he said. “And then you stop sweating. You get hot and dry and hot. Your temperature starts to climb. Your mental state starts to change. And now you’ve gone from something serious but not deadly to something life-threatening. hazard .”

Paramedics need to remember to take care of themselves when they go out and take care of others in this heat, he said. They will also be looking for cool places to stay and supervisors will bring extra water to teams when responding to calls.

“You do a lot of work in a very short time and exert a good amount of energy,” Shubitowski said. “And the heat can affect how you do and how long it takes you to recover.”

For homeless people, getting out of the heat can be a real challenge. The Pine Street Inn in Boston will have an air-conditioned lobby available 24/7 this weekend.

And for those who don’t want to go inside, Pine Street spokeswoman Barbara Trevisan said trained staff will hit the streets with sunscreen and more.

“We’re going to have increased awareness by checking people, bringing water, checking for signs of dehydration. [or] heatstroke, trying to encourage them to get into the air conditioning but keeping a close eye on people,” she said.


To help you stay safe, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has a list of things to do during a heat wave:

  • Calm down: avoid “exhausting” outdoor activities.
  • Light-colored clothing helps reflect heat. If you can, also wear something light and loose. Wide-brimmed hats are a good idea, as is using proper sunscreen – Shubitowski recommends an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Unless advised otherwise by a doctor, drink water. Lots of water, thirsty or not. And no, a cold beer or iced coffee is not a substitute, as alcohol and caffeine can actually speed up dehydration.
  • Pay attention to what you eat. You want light and “balanced” meals.
  • Do do not leave children or pets in a closed car. “Even with the windows open, interior temperatures can soar nearly 20°F in 10 minutes,” according to MEMA.
  • Stay indoors if you can. Also keep your pets indoors. If that’s not an option, try going out in the morning or evening and prepare for the sun with sunscreen. Wear a wide-brimmed hat if you have one.
  • No air conditioner? Let science be your friend: the heat is rising, so try to take refuge on a lower floor. Fans won’t lower the temperature, but the moving air will promote evaporation, making your skin feel cooler. And if in doubt, go to a public place that Is have air conditioning, such as a library, store or public building.
  • Check with your city or town to see if they have opened cooling centers near you. Here is the list of Boston locations.
  • The pools and the beach are great places to cool off, but make sure do it safely. Here again it is Boston’s list of watering holes Open to the public. And here are the DCRswhich has locations across the state.
  • In the event of a power outage, find a cooling center, a friend’s house, or another place to try to stay cool.
  • Heatstroke and other related problems can happen quickly. If you begin to experience symptoms, seek medical advice or attention, up to and including 911.
  • If you are healthy and able, check on nearby sick or elderly residents who may need a little help getting through the extreme heat. This is especially important if they live alone or you know they don’t have air conditioning.