3. Brain swelling
Not something you typically associate with a heat wave, brain swelling is one of the more severe side effects of Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and eastern equine encephalitis, three insectborne diseases becoming more prevalent as the climate warms. This year’s extraordinarily mild winter didn’t kill off ticks as cold winters normally do, and experts are predicting a particularly voracious bunch this year, which means the risk for Lyme disease is more serious than in years past. Expect to find mosquitoes, which carry the other two diseases, biting earlier this year, too, as their feeding patterns change with the warmer weather and earlier onset of spring.
Protect yourself from these disease-carrying bloodsuckers without poisoning yourself or your home with toxic chemicals. If you’ve spent time outside—even in your yard—take a shower as soon as you go into the house. Research has shown this tactic to be very effective in knocking ticks off of your body before they can attach and transmit disease. If you live near woods or a meadow, install a strip of gravel between your yard and those habitats to cut back on the mice population, which harbors ticks, in your yard.
To control mosquitoes, look for mosquito repellents that do NOT list DEET (a chemical that may damage nervous systems and cause asthma attacks) as an active ingredient. Some safer active ingredients include picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and geraniol. Resort to DEET only if you're heading to a tropical region. Keep both mosquitoes and ticks away with long-sleeved shirts and long pants—which don’t require reapplication and are naturally chemical free!
Finally, tell the Environmental Protection Agency you support its proposed Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants, which would limit globe-warming greenhouse gases, which are contributing to the excessive heat—and all the heart attacks, violent crimes, and insectborne diseases none of us wants to suffer from. You can download instructions on how to comment here.