It may come as no surprise that summer is the most popular time for moving. It’s sunny and warm, there’s no snow to trudge through, and driving and unpacking are much easier when the road is bare and dry. While winter and even spring can spell disaster with regard to unfavourable precipitation, summer can throw a curveball of its own your way.
The summer of 2017 is slated to break many meteorological records, rocking the province with temps well into the mid 30’s. In fact, Environment Canada has called for the hot weather to uncharacteristically last for weeks on end. Interior wildfires have caused thousands of people to flee their homes as part of evacuation notices, and winds from the east can easily push smoke and dry air into the Metro Vancouver area and the lower mainland.
With all of this heat, moving season takes on new meaning, as people struggle to cope with soaring temperatures and all that comes with packing up the house and moving to a new address. In this post, we’re going to break down how you should prepare to move in extreme heat conditions, what heat can do to the human body if it’s not cared for properly, and how to ensure the proper precautions are followed by everyone. Summer moving in the heat can be less than ideal, but when you prepare and take your time, you’ll be able to handle it just fine.
It’s no big secret that the human body doesn’t cope well with severe and high temperatures. In order to avoid some common heat-related ailments and conditions, take your time and do some careful planning so everyone is on the same page. As a general set of guidelines:
- Hydrate every 15 minutes or so. Take a breather and consume some water – not Gatorade, pop, coffee, beer, or an energy drink – water. The human body requires water to fuel itself and fend off dehydration.
- Try scheduling your move for early in the morning to avoid the direct and intensified heat of the midday.
- Liberally apply sweat-proof sunscreen of at least SPF-30 to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays – even on cloudy days.
- Learn about the signs of heatstroke and exhaustion like dizziness, confusion, headaches, and nausea. Look out for those helping you move.
To help you discover the UV index of your city or region, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada posts an index forecast of 47 communities across Canada. A UV index report is also included in your local weather report at canada.ca/weather when it’s rated at 3 or higher.
Heat stroke is defined as a type of severe heat illness that results in an internal body temperature of higher than 40.0 °C (104.0 °F). Combined with a lack of sweating and disorientation, heat stroke causes nausea and confusion in its victims, as well as headaches and dizziness.
Heat stroke occurs when the body’s thermoregulatory system is overwhelmed by the excessive environmental heat, or increased metabolic production of heat, resulting in extremely high body temperatures. Unconsciousness, organ failure, and even death can result from prolonged and unassisted heat stroke.
Similarly, heat exhaustion is another form of heat illness caused by the loss of water and electrolytes through excessive sweating. Heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke if left untreated. Symptoms of heat exhaustion are very similar to that of heat stroke, but can also include excessive sweating, weakness, and thirst – as well as decreased urine output. To treat both heat stroke and heat exhaustion:
- Move the affected individual to a cool place.
- Remove excess layers of clothing
- Fan them or place wet/damp towels on their body. Allow them to swim with supervision to help cool them down.
- Have them lie down if they are experiencing dizziness.
- Consume lots of water and drinks with added electrolytes.
- Medical invention may include giving the affected individual supplementary oxygen and intravenous fluids/electrolytes.
The human body is made up of approximately 70% water, so clearly – we depend on it for survival. Dehydration occurs when the human body doesn’t get as much water as it needs, and because of this lack of water, it begins to function differently. On an average day, you lose significant water through breathing, sweating, urinating, and through saliva and tears – most of this water is easily replaced by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. It’s when you lose water at a rate higher than your replacement rate that you can become dehydrated. In these dramatically elevated temperatures, dehydration can occur much quicker than usual.
When you’re moving, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities. You may get busy and simply forget to stop and have a drink or get so busy that you don’t even realize that you’re thirsty. You could be feeling a little under the weather as well, nursing a sore throat, or a stomach bug – which usually means you’ll consume fewer fluids as well.
Symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, a dry or sticky mouth, reduction of urination and dark yellow urine, dry cool skin, headaches and muscle cramps. More severe symptoms can include sunken eyes, very dry skin, rapid heartbeat, sleepiness, confusion and irritability, and fainting. Dehydration needs medical attention immediately, and treatment usually includes intravenous fluid replacement. If you or someone you’re moving with is experiencing symptoms of dehydration, make them sit down and begin consuming water, then seek medical attention if you suspect the symptoms are severe enough.
Getting Ready for the Move
As with any reservation, making your moving truck and crew booking as early as humanly possible can help with reducing unwelcome surprises. If you’re anticipating high temperatures, ask your movers about scheduling their arrival time for early in the morning. Chances are, they’ll jump at the chance to do the heavy lifting of the day earlier when the sun is at its least potent – but this may require some juggling of times and schedules to accommodate.
Ask your movers to bring an extra dolly, or assisted lifting equipment to divvy up the workload and make it easier on everybody. Many hands make less work, as they say. If you have an air conditioned home, crank it up in the hours leading up to the move itself. The added benefit of entering a cool dwelling can hugely offset the rampant heat outside, making things easier on the body, your movers, and the entire moving process.
Do as much packing as you can up front and prior to movers arriving, and consider breaking your packables into smaller boxes to alleviate some of the weight that you’ll be carrying. Exerting your body to increased activity and lifting can cause it to use its reserved energy and water up faster, contributing to heat exhaustion and potential dehydration faster.
Packing in the severe heat brings its own set of challenges. Objects and belongings can be damaged or affected in a hot moving truck, which can act like an oven on a scorcher day. Things like candles, food, vinyl records and CD’s, and shrink-wrapped clothing should never be stored in the heat because they can melt, become misshapen, or destroyed. Pack these items on the truck last, or opt to keep them with you in an air-conditioned vehicle if you can.
Add some light snacks and a hydration station to your moving checklist, enabling everyone – movers included – to access some food and drink in the heat. Lastly, communicate – if you notice someone has gone an hour without a drink or a break, remind them to take it easy and take care of themselves.
Kids and Pets
With movers and parents running around to get things done, kids may not have access to their favourite spot to kick back and relax, meaning they may be pushed outside into the heat with people coming and going. Similarly, pets may face the same type of day if they have to be tied up outside; what’s worse, pets have to endure the heat wearing a fur coat.
If it’s possible, arrange for your pets and children to stay with a friend or relative for the day while you handle the move. It’ll help to keep them from sitting out in the heat all day. If it’s not possible, set them up in a shady spot with lots to drink and eat, preferably somewhere with airflow. Even take the time to fill up the kiddy pool, or set up the sprinkler in the backyard so there’s a place to cool off.
Movers are people too! They’ll likely come equipped with all of the required water and food they’ll need, but extending the olive branch is always appreciated. Consider adding a few extra drinks and a couple snacks for your movers if you anticipate a heatwave during your moving day. There’s always the chance that your moving crew could be on their second house for the day, or may have another to go before the day is gone, so ensuring that they’re hydrated and have some time to take a few short breaks will show them how much you appreciate their contributions to your move, and will inevitably keep them efficient, focused and motivated.