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Emergencies & Your Health: Extreme weather

Extreme weather, severe storms, climate emergencies

More extreme weather, driven by climate changes, causes more frequent and more violent storms, drought, and flooding. We all need to be prepared for the resulting natural and man-made disasters; usually both at the same time. For example, both extreme heat and extreme cold can take down an electrical power grid, as happened recently. So preparing for climate emergencies is a lot like preparing for the other emergency situations covered in this resource guide. Please see the pages on planning for more details.

Extreme heat

Steadily rising temperatures in recent years mean that it's more work to stay comfortably cool - and we're at more risk from overheating.

Learn the signs of the different heat diseases (heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke) and of dehydration, so you can take quick action to avoid serious trouble.

Be aware that the signs of heat illness or dehydration may look different in older adults, or in young children.

Unusual cold

While the Bay Area's weather is usually temperate, a cold snap during power outages, or being unhoused, can still be dangerous. For the location of warming centers, shelters, and hotlines, see:


Cold temperatures, snow, or sleet can be regular winter features in other areas of California, especially at higher elevations. If you're traveling into the mountains during winter months, be prepared! The U.S. Weather Service advises an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Keep a full tank of gas, if possible.

Severe storms

The U.S. Weather Service advises:

  • Know what to do before, during, and after severe weather.
  • Create a communications plan with your family before severe weather hits.
  • Have emergency supplies in place at home, at work, and in the car.
  • Listen to local officials.
  • Check your insurance policies to ensure you have enough coverage.
  • Evacuate if advised by local authorities.

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