Preparing for an Extreme Heat Wave

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Are you ready for those days of an extreme heat wave that will scorch your garden and your skin? They happen every summer! Here are some ways to prepare for them.

Are you ready for those days of an extreme heat wave that will scorch your garden and your skin? They happen every summer! Here are some ways to prepare for them.

Preparing for an Extreme Heat Wave

We prepare for a tornado and hurricanes and even severe thunderstorms to some extent, but often, heat gets overlooked. I’m not sure why, it happens every summer and we know it’s coming.

But that’s the advantage we have when we finally DO decide we need to start preparing for extreme heat… we know for sure it’s coming.

So where do you start? Not by just stocking up on popsicles, that’s for sure! Extreme heat is no joke and can cause heat stroke, fires, and more. The body can’t handle extreme heat, since it pushes the body beyond its regular limits, by making it work overtime to maintain a regular temperature.

So let’s start preparing for extreme heat! Maybe it’s already super hot where you are at, but you can work on these ideas at any time. There is no excuse not to be prepared.

Infused Water Recipes

Stock Up On Waterbottles NOT Gatorade

The body needs nothing other than water to replenish itself. Drinks like Gatorade and Powerade contain corn syrup and other preservatives and chemicals that don’t allow the body to work properly, although they will give a temporary boost. If you really want an electrolyte drink you can try this recipe:

Homemade “Gatorade”

What You Need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons of sweetener (cane sugar or honey)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (NO table salt, you need the minerals)
  • 1 c. orange juice (optional)

On the stove, mix the above ingredients together (besides the orange juice). Stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Add in the orange juice when cooled, store in the fridge.

And you don’t need to stock up on plastic water bottles. Just use the reusable water bottles that you already have, be sure and keep them filled with water, and keep them in the fridge. We always make sure to fill up our Berkey until it’s full the night before we are expecting a heat wave.

If you have trouble drinking straight water, you can try some Infused Waters instead.

–If you do use plastic water bottles, here are some great ways to reuse them when you are done with them!

Have an Emergency Kit

No matter what kind of emergency you are preparing for, you need an emergency kit. You can either create a full on 72 hour kit or if you aren’t quite ready for that you can make these mini emergency kits that are great to put in the car.

Make sure there are water bottles and high protein snacks in your kits.

Easy Salad Dressing Recipes

Plan Your Meals in Advance

There are plenty of meals that you can make without having to turn on the oven. If you are going through an extreme heat wave, it’ probably a good idea to keep the oven off completely until it’s over.

Here are some of our favorite quick meals for summer nights and here are some ideas on how and what to cook without heating up the house.

Proper Insulation

This may seem like a winter preparedness thing but you also need to make sure that you have the proper insulation in your home at all times, especially in the summer.

Just like the cold… heat can sneak in your poorly insulated windows and doors and other areas (such as around a window air conditioner). Keep window shades down during the time of day when the sun is shining full blast into each room in the house.

If it’s possible, buy or make blackout curtains for all of your windows that let the sun in during the day. These will help block the heat immensely.


Prepare Your Garden

If you know that heat is coming, you need to prepare your garden as well so that it doesn’t get scorched. Do not water the garden in the middle of the day during extreme heat, this will only hurt the plants more.

Be sure and water the garden very well as early in the morning as you can. This will give the plants the fuel they need to get through the day. If they are looking pretty droopy by the end of the day, you will also want to give them a sprinkle at the very end of the day as well, just to perk them up. Continue this cycle of watering until the heat wave is over.

Do not use pest repellents on the plants until the heat wave is over.

Use Sprinklers

Not only are sprinklers fun for the kids to play in when the weather is crazy hot, but they serve another purpose as well. This may be hard if you live in a drought area (like we do), but when you are allowed or able to water… do it.

Keep the grass around your home watered as much as possible to keep the grass up around your house as green as you can. In the case of a fire, this will help slow down the flames if they were to approach your house.

If a fire is imminent, make sure you turn on all the sprinklers you can around your home and if you don’t have sprinkles, just turn on hoses so water gathers in your yard. You may not think you are in danger of fire but when temps are high and dry wind is blowing, a fire can spark from the simplest thing.

Keep your grass mowed as well so if a fire does make its way into your yard it will be easier to put out in the shorter grass.

*Side note that we’ve learned from experience…ALWAYS keep water in your stockpile. A few years ago, our home was in the path of a fire and when the firetrucks drew water from the community well we had dirty looking, yellow and black water for days. We would not have had anything if we hadn’t had a good stockpile of gallons of water. A good rule of thumb is no less than 1 gallon of water per person per day in your stockpile. (At least 3 days worth stored, 2 weeks is the minimum if you have the room!)


Don’t Forget About Fido

Make sure your animals and livestock are prepared for heat as well. They need to have cool water at all times and for some animals, you might want to consider some kind of pool or tank. (We’ve used a stock tank for our dog to swim in and a kiddie pool for the ducks!) Also, make sure your pets have plenty of shade to relax in.

If you don’t have air conditioning in your home you might want to consider some of these tips to keep your home cool without air conditioning.

For more tips on how to prepare for a heat wave, check out

Looking for other Prepping tips?

What are your tips for preparing for extreme heat?


This article about Preparing for an Extreme Heat Wave was originally published on Little House Living in August 2013. It has been updated as of July 2020.

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  1. I live in a rainforest in Alaska, so the thought of needing water isn’t that big on my mind, although we’ve gone 2 weeks without rain before, and then I start thinking that maybe I should have set some aside (not that we get our water out of a cistern like most of the people, we are on city water) However, my thoughts always go to:
    How do you store water?
    I guess I have a day’s worth of water at any given time in gallon jugs and water bottles, but I just can’t think of getting 3 (people)x14 days = 42 gallon jugs of water to fit anywhere in my home.
    You should write a post on it. 🙂

  2. I found your post very interesting and a bit enlightening. I live in Ohio, so our conditions are different. It isn’t often we need to worry about forest fires. And you might think we don’t get as hot (we don’t by the thermometer), but unfortunately we can get very humid at the same time, and its the humidity that gets to me and makes it feel much hotter than it is. If its just hot and dry, it’s not nearly so bad and I don’t get exhausted.

    A couple of things I have found that help us in very hot weather… for cooking, in addition to grilling outdoors, sometimes I simply put the crock pot or electric skillet on the porch, where it isn’t adding any heat to the inside of the house. It then becomes a sort of “summer kitchen.”

    We have an old kitchen that needs a reno and doesn’t have an extractor fan above the stove, but I did put a window fan in one of the windows, and when I am cooking there, I have it on to push the heat OUT of the house. Usually we only think of being in front of the wind, but this works better where heat collects or is generated.

    And over the years I’ve learned that the quality of the soil greatly affects how much the soil will hold water or how quickly it will dry out. I make sure it has plenty of rich compost, so that the garden doesn’t go through harsh cycles of flooding it in the morning and then still being bone dry by afternoon. I know many people also mulch on top, but I don’t know what you think of that method if fire is a threat.

    We also put out a dishpan filled with broken bricks or rocks and fresh water for our honeybees and wild pollinators, and set it out in dappled shade so the water doesn’t get too hot. The rocks are so that no matter how shallow or deep the water, the pollinators have a safe landing pad so they don’t drown. Birds and other wildlife use it, too. It gets used so much by them in hot weather that we know it is important to have it out there.

  3. I also think on the Desert Peoples theory on cloths to help combat heat. light long breathable flowing cloths so every movement you make moves air around you keeping you cool and helps keep the sun off you. The more skin is exposed the more a risk of sunburn which leads to more heat sick without protection. not just sunscreen.