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Posts Tagged ‘weather’

A cardboard sign at an event that reads "you'll die of old age, we'll die of climate change"

I’m sure you have heard the words climate change. Are you familiar with their meaning and impacts? Climate change describes a change in the average conditions, such as temperature and rainfall, in a region over a long period of time. Most people are aware of the affects of climate change on the world we live in including temperature, environment, air quality, and many others. Did you know climate change can impact our health? In 2015, former Director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, publicly acknowledged climate change as an urgent public health issue. She stated “The evidence is overwhelming: climate change endangers human health. Solutions exist, and we need to act decisively to change this trajectory.”

According to the US Global Change Research Program, climate change affects human health in two ways:

  • It changes the severity and frequency of health problems that are already affected by climate and weather factors.
  • It creates unanticipated health problems or health threats in places where they have not previously occurred.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors and the affects they can have on our health. Rising temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels and increasing carbon dioxide levels lead to a variety of conditions that affect our environment and ultimately our health. Listed below are some results of climate change and the impacts they can have on our physical and mental health:

  • Severe heat – injuries, fatalities, mental health issues
  • Air pollution – asthma, cardiovascular disease
  • Increasing allergens – respiratory allergies, asthma
  • Water quality impacts – bacteria and viruses in the water
  • Water and food supply impacts – malnutrition, diarrhea
  • Environmental degradation – forced migration, civil conflict, mental health issues
  • Extreme heat – heat-related illness and death, cardiovascular failure

How we live, work, and play together in our communities and cities can have a huge impact in tackling climate change. What can communities do to combat this issue?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Inspire, educate, and raise awareness on how our everyday behaviors affect the local environment and planet. Introduce people to actions they can implement into their daily routines to reduce their negative environmental impact. 
  • Encourage sustainable commuting – walking, biking, ride shares
  • Support local businesses who produce products and food locally
  • Address the needs of the most vulnerable
  • Reduce the use of energy in buildings
  • Recycle
  • Create wealth from waste – upcycle, practice responsible production and consumption patterns
  • Reclaim green spaces – community gardens, parks, green roofs, trees
  • Implement community sharing – some objects are not necessary to be owned by every household

Working together to curb the negative affects of climate change is going to take everyone working together. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Just remember what’s good for our climate is good for our health, and what’s good for our health is good for our climate.

Written by Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Belmont County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Sources:

NASA Climate Kids. What is Climate Change? https://climatekids.nasa.gov/climate-change-meaning/

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Cities and Local Action to Combat Climate Change. https://unfccc.int/topics/education-youth/youth-engagement/global-youth-video-competition/global-youth-video-competition-2019/cities-and-local-action-to-combat-climate-change U.S. Global Change Research Program. Climate and Health Assessment. https://health2016.globalchange.gov/


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The dog days of summer are upon us. Heat and humidity can make it difficult to be comfortable, especially for those who don’t have air conditioning.  Extreme heat can even be deadly, causing heat exhaustion or heatstroke if not treated in time.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 600 people die from heat related complications each year.  This is more deaths than from all other natural disasters combined (flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes). Those who are most vulnerable include infants, children, the elderly, those who work outdoors, and people with chronic medical conditions.

Heat exhaustion is when the body overheats and can lead to heatstroke if the symptoms are not treated in time. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, rapid pulse, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, headache, and muscle cramps. These symptoms often occur when a person is participating in strenuous physical activity.  If a person is experiencing these symptoms, immediately have them rest, move to a cooler place and drink water or sports drinks.  Seek immediate medical attention if the symptoms don’t improve within an hour.

Heat exhaustion is preventable by taking some simple precautions. By planning ahead of time when a high heat index is predicted, you can stay as cool as a cucumber by following these simple tips:

summer heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stay hydrated and drink more water than you usually do. Avoid beverages with caffeine, alcohol, or high amounts of sugar. If you are physically active or sweating more than usual, try drinking a sport drink with electrolytes.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing in natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or hemp. These allow your body to breathe.
  • Cool off with water by soaking your feet in a tub of cold water. Keep a spray bottle of water in the refrigerator and mist yourself throughout the day. Take it with you when you leave the house.
  • If your house isn’t air conditioned, head to your local library, mall or community building. If your house has a basement, create a comfortable area where you can sit when it’s hot outside.
  • Create a cross breeze by positioning a fan across the room from a window. To cool the room down even more, place a pan of ice in front of the fan to generate a cool breeze.
  • Cool off your house or apartment by turning of lights and using heat-generating appliances at night, such as washers, dryers, and irons.
  • Dampen a towel or small blanket with cool water and wrap it around your body.
  • Take a cool shower.

lemons and ice

One extra note – remember your four-legged friends especially during the heat. Dogs and cats don’t have the ability to sweat like humans, so they will be affected differently by heat.  Give your pet a haircut and keep them indoors on hot days, providing them with water.  Limit outdoor activity or exercise and don’t push them too hard.  When they are outside, be sure they have a shady spot to lie in and make sure they have plenty of cool water to drink.  Avoid hot surfaces since your pet is basically barefoot.  If your dog doesn’t have much fur, you can use a special pet sunblock with zinc oxide to prevent burns. Never leave a pet in a parked car, even on cooler days.  The inside temperature heats up very quickly!  If you think your pet is overheated, get them into shade or air conditioning immediately.  Don’t submerge them in cold water; cooling down too quickly can cause problems.  Wet them under a faucet or hose with lukewarm water and let the air flow around them.  Offer small amounts of water to drink and call your veterinarian immediately.

Enjoy summer and all the fun activities it brings – picnics, swimming, gardening, and long lazy days…

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat Related Illness, https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html

WebMD, Green Tips for a Cool Summer, http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/green-tips-for-a-cool-summer.

City of Cincinnati Health Department, http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/health/news/excessive-heat-warning-issued/

Written by: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewed by: Liz Smith, M.S., RDN, L.D., Ohio State University Extension, SNAP-Ed.

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