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How to Prepare For Climate Change Impacts

Updated: May 23, 2022

While fighting climate change is important, knowing how to prepare for climate change impacts may be more critical. From historic droughts to deadly heatwaves and catastrophic wildfires, the world is experiencing the impacts of climate change and global warming every day.

According to the IPCC report published in 2022, the science is clear. At the current rate of warming, global average temperatures are likely to increase by 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052. And since these warming trends have begun to warm our oceans, reversing them or remaining below the threshold is unlikely. Scientists attribute this increase to the “greenhouse effect” — warming caused by trapping the sun’s reflected heat within the atmosphere. Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Temperatures worldwide and are already around 1.1°C above preindustrial levels. This means they are nearing the limit of °1.5C agreed to in the Paris Agreement. Scientists have long warned that crossing this threshold risks unleashing severe climate change effects on people, wildlife, and ecosystems. But scientists have also warned we would feel the impacts of climate change long before crossing this threshold.

Climate Change Impacts Happening Right Now

When thinking about how to prepare for climate change, your number one consideration must be adapting to higher temperatures. Since 1901, annual average temperatures have have been increasing. In fact, the last 8 years were the hottest average annual temperatures on record since modern recordkeeping began in 1880.

How to prepare for climate change: graph of global warming and increasing temperatures worldwide. Source: NOAA

Heat Waves

Data show heat waves are occurring three times more often than they did in the 1960s–from an average of 2 to more than 6 per year. The average heat wave season is 47 days longer, and individual heat waves are lasting longer and becoming more intense.

How to prepare for climate change: Graphs showing heat wave season, intensity, frequency, and duration. Source: NOAA

Man-made structures absorb and re-emit heat from the sun more than natural environments. Therefore, cities experience even higher temperatures than outlying areas. Data collected indicate this heat island effect increases city temperatures nearly 7 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 5 degrees at night.

Higher night temperatures are especially dangerous because bodies need cooler nighttime temperatures to “reset” themselves and recover from daytime highs. But, when temperatures do not fall at night, internal body temperatures do not have time to cool. It was this phenomena that led to more than 500 deaths during the Pacific Northwest heat wave in 2021.

Drought

Warmer temperatures also enhance evaporation, which reduces surface water and dries out soils and vegetation. These dryer soils and plants make periods with low precipitation drier than they would be in cooler conditions.

Climate change is also altering the timing of water availability. Warmer winter temperatures are causing less snow to fall, which provides less water for reservoirs. And because snow acts as a reflective surface, less area covered in snow increases surface temperatures.

Increased evaporation and a lack of seasonal snowfall is leading to drought conditions around the world. Nearly the entire western US is experiencing a drought with many areas in an extreme or exceptional drought.

How to prepare for climate change: Map of US drought monitor. Source: USDA, NOAA

Wildfire

As temperatures increase and drought expands, the risk of wildfire increases dramatically. Projections indicate the current increase of 1°C will increase the median burned area per year as much as 600% in the western US. The changing environment is also extending fire season and making fires harder to fight after they start.

These factors are leading to more fires ignited every year and more acres burned. Six of California’s largest wildfires occurred in 2020. The largest fire in California history, the August Complex wildfire in 2020, destroyed nearly 160 structures and burned 1,032,600 acres. But, it was not California’s deadliest fire. The Camp Fire in 2018 burned 153,336 acres, destroyed 18,804 structures, and resulted in 85 civilian fatalities.

How to prepare for climate change: graphic of wildfire extent in the united states. Source: EPA

How to Prepare For Climate Change: What You Can Do

We’ve created this extensive list of tips to help you prepare for a changing environment. Don’t worry; you don’t have to do all of them. Start with something simple but important. If you live in a wildfire-prone area, prepare for a potential evacuation. If you might lose electricity during a severe storm, stock your pantry and consider a backup power supply.

Read on to discover science-backed ideas about where to start and what to aim for.

How to Prepare Your Home for Climate Change

As climate change impacts increase, people are looking for ways to prepare their homes for these potential effects. To begin, you must shift your mindset. Your home is not just a place for rest, relaxation, and entertaining. It must also be where you can shelter in place through the most likely climate-related crisis in your area.

Of course, you definitely shouldn’t stay in your home when told to evacuate. But, you can increase the chance of your home surviving when you’re not there.

Install Ceiling Fans

While a ceiling fan doesn’t reduce a room’s temperature, it does increase your comfort level by getting more air flowing and creating a windchill effect by pushing your own body heat away from you. More air flowing means the room will feel cooler.

how to prepare for climate change: install ceiling fans to improve air flow and reduce use of air conditioning

This effect will be a pleasant welcome if your home doesn’t have an air conditioner, especially as global temperatures rise. If you do have air conditioning, you will use less of it. Using less energy will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.

Use Standing Fans

If installing ceiling fans is not an option, use standing fans to circulate the air in your home. Fans use only a tiny fraction of the electricity of an air conditioner. But they effectively make you more comfortable by pushing your body heat away from you and evaporating the sweat from your skin.

To get the greatest benefit, open all the interior doors in your home. As the fan blows air, open doors will keep it circulating.

Open Your Windows

In many areas around the world, temperatures outside decrease after the sun sets. Once the air cools, open your windows to take advantage of these lower temperatures. Consider installing a temporary window fan for greater circulation. Some window fans blow cooler air into your home as well as all the hot air out of your home. This dual action provides even greater circulation for reducing indoor temperatures.

Replace Your Windows

When considering how to prepare for climate change, the windows in your home are a good place to start. If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes or severe storms, consider installing impact-resistant windows. Choose windows with laminated glass installed in place of standard window glass. Laminated glass is designed to withstand extreme wind speeds and protect against wind-borne debris.

Climate change is increasing extreme temperatures, so you might want to consider replacing single-pane windows with double- or triple-paned windows. These windows insulate your home better and keep the internal temperatures more stable. Tempered or double-paned windows can also help protect your home from wildfire damage.

Since wildfires can shatter your windows before the flames even get near your home, consider metal doors that unroll when they detect intense heat if you live in a wildfire-prone area.

Add Interior Window Coverings

Another way to keep your home cooler is to add quality window coverings. According to the Department of Energy, draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%. Insulated cellular shades provide even more protection–from extreme temperatures and ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Even if your window coverings aren’t designed for extreme temperatures, knowing when to open and close them will make a big difference. In the summer, closing the curtains during the day will instantly cause a midday temperature drop inside your home. In the winter, keep your curtains open during the day and closed tightly at night.

Add Exterior Window Treatments

Exterior window treatments include shutters and shades, awnings, and solar window screens. Exterior shutters and shades can be operated from inside the home and provide shade, privacy, security, and protection from storms. If made from noncombustable materials, they can also protect you windows from wildfire.

Awnings are a roof-like shelter installed on a home’s exterior that shades windows from the sun’s heat and glare. Larger awnings can also shade outdoor living spaces. Exterior solar windows screens are installed as roller shades or fixed panels. These screens reduce solar heat, UV damage and glare. These screens look similar to insect screens and won’t obscure your view through the window.

Install a Backup Power System

Air conditioners have become a necessity during summer heat waves. But all those air conditioners running 24 hours a day may lead to an unwelcomed power outage. That’s why whether you’re preparing for a severe winter storm, summer heat wave, or hurricane, your priority should be to prepare for a loss of electricity. The size and price of the system you will need depends on your needs and how much inconvenience you can tolerate.

Portable generators and inverter generators are a good choice for smaller homes. In comparison, permanently installed generators are best suited to larger homes or for those who want a solution that kicks on automatically when the lights go out.

Battery backup systems are the most convenient (and most expensive) solution and are available in various options and costs.

how to prepare for climate change: install a backup power supply

Solar panels are a more permanent option, and as a renewable energy, they can help reduce emissions. Solar panels can be expensive but have many benefits.

Install a Backup Water System

Installing a backup water system can help you weather a short-term interruption.

Many people turn to bottled water in an emergency. But, you shouldn’t plan on bottled water as your only solution. Bottled water is expensive and environmentally disastrous. And, you may not be able to store enough for everyone to drink, let alone satisfy other water needs.

Installing a home water storage system can ensure you have enough water for cooking, cleaning, and drinking when the tap runs dry.

You can choose from many different storage systems–from large cisterns buried underground to water barrels or tanks that sit in your garage or basement.

Start a Rainwater Harvesting System

Rainwater harvesting is a great way to save water and reduce your utility bills. Plus, it’s straightforward to do.

To get started, simply collect rainwater and fill your rain barrel during storms. Then, use this water for washing your car or watering your plants or garden.

How to prepare for climate change: install a rainwater harvesting system

Replace Your Insulation and Seal Any Leaks

Many kinds of insulation exist, and your choice will vary depending on if you live in a cold or warm climate. However, insulation can’t do the job if your house is letting air in from outside. Be sure to check your home for leaks around windows, doors, and chimneys.

Replace Your Roof

If you haven’t replaced your roof in 20 years, it’s time to do so. Begin by choosing a roofing material rated for the climate conditions in your area.

How to prepare for climate change: install a metal roof

If you live in an area prone to hurricanes or tornados, you’ll want a roof to withstand high winds. For areas at risk of wildfire, you’ll want a fire-resistant roof. If heatwaves are common or on the rise in your area, consider installing unique tiles that reflect the sun’s energy.

Seal Your Eves

Your eaves are the overhanging edges of your roof. They are often open to the outside and can provide a path for water, pests, and dangerous embers to enter your home.

You can help stop unwanted entry into your home by sealing your eaves with caulk or foam sealant. You can also install eave vents that allow air to circulate while keeping out fire, water, and pests.

Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts

Your gutters and downspouts are designed to direct water away from your home, but they can only do their job if they are clean. Leaves and other debris can quickly clog up your gutters, causing water to back up and potentially damage your roof.

In addition, if your gutters are full of leaves, embers can easily ignite the leaves, which can spread to your roof. Be sure to clean your gutters and downspouts regularly to prevent this damage.

Install Gutter Guards

If you live in an area with many trees, you may want to install gutter guards to help prevent leaves and other debris from clogging up your gutters. Gutter guards come in many different types, so be sure to choose the best one for your climate and home.

How to prepare for climate change: Prevent wildfire embers and insects from getting into your home by installing gutter guards

Trim Trees Near Your Home

Trees may add beauty and shade to your property, but they can also be a fire risk or endanger your home when branches break during strong winds or freezing temperatures.

If you live in a wildfire-prone area, keep trees trimmed away from your home. You should also remove dead branches and leaves from around your home. If you have a lot of trees on your property or you live in a wildland-urban interface, you must create a “defensible space” or buffer around your home. This buffer is a 30- to 100-foot nonburnable buffer around your home and is the best chance you have of protecting your home from wildfire.

To create a buffer, remove any plants or trees that are highly flammable or pose a risk to nearby buildings. Also, clear out any dead vegetation and debris. Don’t leave anything that could carry wildfire embers into your home.

Install Sprinklers Around Your Home

While a sprinkler system around your home won’t stop flames from reaching your home, it can help keep them from spreading and give you time to evacuate.

Install Screens on Attic and Basement Vents

Summer heatwaves can bring swarms of insects looking for a way into your cool home. These insects can not only be a nuisance, but some of them carry diseases that can be harmful to humans.

A fine noncombustible corrosion-resistant metal mesh screen installed over your vents will keep embers from entering your attic and crawlspaces.

How to prepare for climate change: install screens on your attic to prevent wildfire embers from getting into your attic

Install a Spark Arrestor on your Chimney

In addition to keeping out pests and animals, installing a spark arrestor on your chimney will keep sparks and embers out of your home. When choosing a spark arrestor, make sure it is rated for your climate and your fireplace type.

Seal the Garage Door

Sealing your garage door with weatherstripping will help protect it from water damage and help reduce ember entry in the event of a nearby wildfire. In addition to protecting your home from climate-related emergencies, taking these steps now can help you save money on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint all year round.

Replace or Modify Your Deck

Wooden decks should be replaced with a fire-resistant composite material. If you can’t afford to replace the entire deck, consider replacing the boards closest to the home with noncombustible material.

How to prepare for climate change: protect your house from wildfire. Image of composite deck materials

Consider building your deck on stilts or installing flood vents to allow the water to pass under the deck without damaging it if you live in an area prone to flooding.

Replace Your Fence

If surrounding vegetation or embers ignite a combustible fence, the flames may swiftly reach your property. Consider replacing a combustible wooden fence with a noncombustable material such as vinyl or metal to protect your home. If replacing the entire fence is not feasible, at least replace the 5 feet closest to your home.

Rethink Your Landscaping

If you live in an area prone to wildfire, the plants you choose for your landscaping can make a big difference to the safety of your home. Replace highly flammable plants such as junipers and pines with fire-resistant plants such as lavender, rosemary, or sedum. Group plants together based on their water needs so you can more easily give them the hydration they need during heat waves.

If you live in the southwest, consider replacing your lawn with drought-tolerant landscaping that includes succulents and a ground cover such as rock.

How to prepare for climate change: plant drought-tolerant landscaping. Image of rocks and succulents

And, as always keep your lawn free of debris and trim back any branches that hang over your roof.

Install a Home Fire Sprinkler System

Home fire sprinklers are one of the most effective ways to protect your home from fire. They can help contain a fire and give you time to evacuate. While installing a home fire sprinkler system is an investment, it may be worth it for the peace of mind it can bring.

Replace Your Heating and Cooling System

A heat pump replaces your furnace and air conditioner and drastically reduces electricity bills, saving you money and reducing your carbon emissions. These devices are designed to pump heat from the ground or air outside into your home in cold weather. In hot weather, they work by pumping indoor hot air outside.

Install a Swamp Cooler

Swamp coolers are the perfect solution for areas with very low humidity and make a great addition to traditional air conditioners. Swamp coolers lower indoor temperatures by passing outdoor air over water-saturated pads. As the water in the pads evaporates, the air temperature dramatically reduces.

Map provided by California Energy Commission showing where swamp coolers work best

Install Solar Panels

Solar panels can help you save money on your energy bills, reduce your carbon footprint, and reduce your dependence on fossil fuels. They can also provide electricity to your home in the event of a climate-related emergency, such as a hurricane or extreme weather event.

As climate change continues to cause drought, high winds, and other wildfire risks, utilities are increasingly opting to temporarily turn off power to specific areas to reduce the risk of fires caused by electric infrastructure. This action is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) or “de-energization.” Solar panels will keep the lights on and air conditioning running during these PSPS events.

How to Protect Your Health from Climate Change

Prepare for Heat Waves

Extreme heat affects older adults, young children, and people with chronic health conditions quickly and without warning. High temperatures, especially when combined with humid air or physical activity, can make you very sick and cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Symptoms include heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and headache.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, make a plan now for how you will stay safe during heat waves. Your first line of defense is to use standing fans or ceiling fans to create air flow or air conditioners to reduce room temperatures.

Other techniques include taking a cool shower, drinking plenty of water, and identifying cooling centers in your area that you can go to if the lights go out and you do not have a battery backup system or alternative energy supply.

If nighttime temperatures do not cool, you may find that your sheets trap body heat and make sleeping impossible. Try wetting your sheets or placing refrigerated cold packs–or even plastic water bottles–in your bed before you go to bed.

Monitor Air Quality

Extreme weather affects air quality. In summer 2021, as temperatures rose across the west coast, so did pollution readings. And a new report by NOAA Fisheries found that the same processes that generate summertime ozone pollution (commonly known as smog) trigger smoggy haze in winter.

How to prepare for climate change: monitor air quality. Image of a city plagued by smog

Not only is ozone a danger, but dry and hot conditions (heat waves) often lead to drought, which can increase particulate matter in the air through dust and smoke from fires. Even if fires aren’t located near you, your air quality is at risk since smoke can travel thousands of miles.

Know the air quality around you by frequently checking local air quality reports. You can also purchase an air quality monitor that enables you to easily track air quality in your area on your smartphone or a display in your home.

Protect Indoor Air Quality

Air pollution doesn’t just impact outdoor air. According to the EPA, indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outside air.

One of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality is to use HVAC filters with very high MERV ratings. Another option is to purchase a portable room air purifier. These machines use various technologies that remove everything from smoke and smells to fungus, viruses, and bacteria. A whole-house filter can be installed to clean the air whenever the house fan runs.

Store Plenty of Non-perishable Food and Water

In the event of climate chaos or a climate change-related emergency, access to basic necessities can be severely limited. With this in mind, it’s essential to stock up on non-perishable food items and have a water filter on hand in case your tap water is contaminated.

How to prepare for climate change: stock your pantry. Image of a woman stocking her pantry with nonperishable food

Receive Early Warning Alerts

While FEMA has a nationwide warning system that blasts alerts to every cell phone, radio station, and TV channel, those alerts will not necessarily be activated for local emergencies. You have to sign up with your local governments to receive local alerts. To do this, search the internet for emergency alerts in your area and sign up today.

You can also install one of several free emergency alert apps on your cell phone. Some great options include Alerts by the American Red Cross and FEMA by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Pay Attention to the Weather

Always monitor local news and weather reports to stay informed about what is happening in your area. Be sure to have a battery-operated or hand-crank radio on hand so you can receive updates even during a blackout.

Brush up on Your First Aid

Have a first-aid kit on hand and know how to use it. Several first-aid classes are available to prepare you to handle many medical emergencies that may arise. If you’re unable to take a class, download one of these apps to consult during an emergency: First Aid from the American Red Cross and Stop the Bleed created through a collaboration between federal and civilian agencies.

You can also purchase Stop the Bleed kits from the American College of Surgeons.

Protect Yourself from Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal on earth. That’s right. The diseases that mosquitoes carry kill around 500,000 every year. And climate change is making them worse.

As the climate warms, mosquitoes can survive and thrive in new areas. They’re also able to reproduce more quickly and carry more diseases.

How to prepare for climate change: protect yourself from insects. Image of someone spraying mosquito repellant on themselves

To protect yourself from these deadly creatures, drain standing water and spray your yard with insecticide to keep mosquitoes at bay near your home. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and spray yourself or your clothing to keep them away from you.

Protect Yourself from Ticks

According to the CDC, climate change has helped expand the area where ticks can live and thrive, which has increased the potential risk of contracting Lyme disease. No matter where you live, you now need to protect yourself from ticks.

The same sprays that protect you from mosquitos will also save you from ticks. Also, unlike mosquitos, you cannot be infected by a tick unless it remains attached to you for more than 24 to 48 hours. To find a tick, you should closely examine your entire body, especially those warm, damp areas like the armpits, groin, and behind your knees.

Consider Your Mental Health

A changing environment can be highly stressful. After all, it’s hard not to fear the future when the evidence is all around us. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there are things you can do to take care of your mental health.

Protect your mental health. Image of a woman looking out the window

Talk to someone who can help you manage your stress. If you’re interested in speaking to a therapist specializing in eco-grief, search the climate-aware therapist directory for a specialist in your area or who sees patients remotely. Make time for activities that make you happy and help you relax. They can provide support and comfort during difficult times. And stay connected to your community and loved ones.

How to Prepare Your Family for Climate Change

Make a Plan

When chaos hits, it’s crucial to have a plan detailing where you will go and how you will communicate with your loved ones if you are forced to evacuate. Choose a safe place to meet up, and make sure everyone knows the plan. Practice your evacuation plan regularly so that everyone is familiar with the steps they need to take in during an emergency or disaster.

Build a “Go Bag”

Pack a go bag for natural disasters, emergencies, or evacuations

In addition to having a plan, you’ll also want to have an emergency kit that you can grab quickly in an evacuation. This kit should include some protein bars and other quick snacks and supplies to last for at least 72 hours.

Because you won’t be able to carry around enough drinking water for everyone, purchase a method of purifying any water you find along your route. Include a first-aid kit, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and copies of essential documents.

You should also have a list of emergency contacts, such as your doctor, insurance company, and out-of-town loved ones or friends.

Build a “Get Home Bag”

While many people have considered packing a go bag, they haven’t thought about a “get home bag.” You never know when you may need supplies to help you get back to your home quickly and safely. You can easily store a few items in your car, including a first-aid kit and a map of the area in case you need to take an unexpected detour.

You should also have a change of clothes, sturdy shoes, and a flashlight. It’s always a good idea to pack blankets and extra supplies in case you are stranded overnight.

Keep Your Vehicle in Good Working Order

In the event of an evacuation, your car is one of your most important assets. Keep it in good working order by regularly checking the oil, tires, and fluids. A properly maintained car has the added benefit of reducing the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

You should also have a spare tire and jumper cables in case you get stranded. If you may have to evacuate unexpectedly, fill your gas tank frequently.

Keep Important Documents Easily Accessible

Save important documents such as social security card, birth certificate and credit cards

If you need to evacuate quickly, you’ll want to have important documents such as your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate easily accessible.

You should also keep copies of important financial documents such as your bank statements and insurance policies in a fire-proof safe or grab bag. However, scanning these documents and storing them electronically ensures that you can access them even if you can’t take the physical copies with you.

Know Your Important Passwords

If you need to evacuate, chances are you won’t have time to sit down and write out all of your important passwords.

Make storing your passwords safe and easy by using a password manager that stores encrypted passwords online. Not only will you never forget a password, but you can access your account from any location.

Save Your Family Treasures

Since you may not have time to grab your most sentimental items in a disaster-related emergency, take time now to digitize your photos.

You can also create a “safe room” in your home where you can store important documents and valuables. This room should be located on an upper floor, away from windows, and have sturdy walls and doors.

Prepare Your Phone for Alternative Communication

If phone lines are down and cell line circuits are jammed, you can still communicate with your loved ones using apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Voxer. These apps allow you to send text, photos, and even video messages without relying on cell towers.

Be able to communicate in an emergency. Image of texting on a cell phone

Finally, keep your phone’s operating system updated to always run the latest software.

Protect Your Kids’ Mental Health

A survey of 10,0000 young people in 10 countries revealed that nearly 60% were extremely worried about climate change. Over half said they feel sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty. Children are especially vulnerable to climate change-related anxiety and depression, so it’s essential to have a plan to help them cope.

Protect your kids from climate change chaos. Image of an upset teenager

Your first step in helping your child adapt to climate change is to discuss the issue with them in an age-appropriate way. Ask them what they’ve heard so you can dispel any myths or distorted information. Once you’ve started the conversation, encourage them to process their feelings. Give them an outlet for their anxiety, such as writing or drawing.

You can also help them take action by getting involved in eco-friendly activities that help fight climate change. Not only will they feel empowered but their actions could delay the full impacts of the climate crisis. Most importantly, make sure they have a support system, such as a close friend, family member, or therapist.

Know How to Find Emergency Help

Knowing where you’re going to go and how to find help is critical in an emergency. Familiarize yourself with your local area and know of safe places you can go if you need to evacuate quickly.

Be sure to download the Red Cross Emergency app or FEMA’s app to quickly look up shelter information on the road. You can also send the text message “SHELTER + Zip Code” to 43362 (4FEMA) after you’re on the road. They’ll text you back with the address and contact information of nearby shelters.

How to Prepare Your Food Supply for Climate Change

Stock Your Pantry

Extremes in weather, which are becoming more common, often lead to power outages. An excellent way to prepare for a blackout or winter storm is to stock your pantry with non-perishable items. This way, you will have something to eat that does not need to be refrigerated or cooked.

Some great items to stock up on include canned goods, dried fruits and nuts, crackers, and peanut butter. Be sure to have a manual can opener on hand so you can open cans even if you have no electricity.

Plant a Survival Garden

Grow your own food. Image shows a garden

The climate crisis is impacting water availability, weather predictability, and pollinator timing. Thus, you need to be more strategic about what you plant in your garden to combat potential food shortages. And don’t skip past this section if you live in an apartment–urban gardening is a very viable option.

Choose drought-tolerant species with the ability to survive freezing temperatures or heat waves. And, if you’re new to gardening, you will want to focus on plants that are easy to grow. Some great options include dry beans such as pinto, navy, kidney, and black beans; legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, peas, and peanuts; tomatoes; and squash.

Develop Smart Watering Strategies for Your Garden

An estimated 55 million people around the world are affected by droughts every year. Water shortages threaten farmers and livestock, increase the risk of disease and death, and fuel mass migration.

Water your plants in the morning or evening when it’s cooler outside. Not only will this reduce evaporation, but it will also help your plants better absorb the moisture. To conserve water, consider installing a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation uses much less water than other irrigation methods. You can also consider a weather-based controller that automatically adjusts the amount of water needed according to the climate conditions.

If too much water is your issue and your garden beds tend to flood, consider raising your garden beds. You can also add clay to the soil, spread mulch around your plants, or add an inch or two of gravel on top of the soil around your plants.

Start Composting

Composting is a great way to reduce your food waste, add nutrients to your soil, and help your plants grow. It’s also really easy to do.

To start composting, all you need is a bin (or even just a pile), some brown materials (such as dead leaves or twigs), some green materials (such as grass clippings or fruit and vegetable scraps), and some water. Mix the brown and green materials, add a little bit of water, and let nature do its thing. In just a few weeks, you will have rich compost that your plants will love.

Image of a composting bin

Save Your Seeds

If you want to be truly self-sufficient, you need to save your own seeds. Start by saving seeds from heirloom plants. As you become more confident with your skills, expand to non-heirloom varieties. This way, you always have access to plants that are a perfect fit for your climate and soil.

There are several ways to store seeds. For short-term storage (up to five years), you can keep seeds in an airtight jar in your fridge or freezer. For longer-term storage (up to 10 years), store seeds in an airtight envelope. You can also freeze them, vacuum seal them, or store them in a box with silica gel packs.

Join (or Start) a Community Garden

If you don’t have the time to garden yourself, consider joining a community garden. Community gardens are a great way to meet people, learn new gardening skills, and access fresh produce.

And, if there isn’t a community garden in your area, you can always start your own. Creating a community garden is an excellent project for groups of friends, families, or even co-workers.

Consider Canning and Preserving Food

Canning and preserving food is a great way to extend the shelf life of your produce and have access to healthy food all year long. If you’re new to canning, start with small batches so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

A great place to start is with jams, jellies, or fruit preserves. You can also pickle vegetables, such as cucumbers, carrots, onions, and peppers. And, if you want to get adventurous, you can even try your hand at canning meat.

Dehydrate Food

Dehydrated foods last longer, are lightweight, and are very compact, making them perfect for adding to your emergency supplies. Plus, they are really easy to make. You need a dehydrator (or an oven set to its lowest temperature) and some time.

how to prepare for climate change: dehydrate food

Fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish can all be dehydrated. Once dehydrated, you can store them in airtight containers or bags for months (or even years).

How to Prepare Your Pets for Climate Change

Have a Plan

Don’t forget to include your furry friends in your planning. Make sure you know where you will go and how you will transport large and small animals in an evacuation. If possible, keep a crate or carrier in an easily accessible spot so you can grab it and go.

You should also have a list of pet-friendly hotels or neighborhood cooling centers and the contact information for your veterinarian.

Have an Emergency Kit

You should also have a pet emergency kit that includes food, drinking water, a leash or harness, a carrier, medications, and any other items your pet may need.

Think about the environment around you when assembling your supplies. Preparing an emergency kit for potential flooding will be different than preparing for hotter summer temperatures.

Consider Microchipping

If you haven’t already, consider microchipping your cats, dogs, and other small animals. If they do get lost, you have a better chance of being reunited with them.

Keep Fido Cool

As global temperatures rise, keeping your four-legged friends safe is essential. Most pets have fur coats designed to keep them warm. And their sole cooling mechanism is panting which exchanges hot air from their lungs with cooler air outside.

Never leave your pet in a parked car, even for a few minutes. Most car interiors are made of dark fabrics and dark colors absorb heat. Interior car heat can increase quickly, potentially leading to fatal conditions.

Image of a dog drinking water out of a bowl

Ensure they have access to shady areas and plenty of fresh, cool water. And if your pet is outdoors for extended periods, make sure they have a way to escape the rising temperatures. Provide them a doghouse or access to air conditioning in extreme heat.

When researching air-conditioned public spaces, ask ahead of time if you can bring your pet with you. Many cities provide a few centers that allow domestic animals.

Consider Your Pet’s Exercise Routine

You may need to adjust your pet’s exercise routine. Hotter temperatures will make it harder to keep their body temperature down. Avoid exercising them during the hottest part of the day, and stick to morning or evening hours instead.

If you have an older pet or a short-nosed breed, such as a bulldog or pug, they may be more susceptible to high temperatures, so it’s essential to take extra care with them in hot weather.

Protect Pets from Extreme Weather

As climate change leads to more extreme weather events, it’s important to be prepared. If a hurricane, tornado, or other severe weather event is headed your way, make sure you have a plan for how you will keep your pets safe.

Keeping pets safe may mean bringing them inside well before the storm or making arrangements to evacuate with them if necessary.

Monitor Their Health

heat leads to heat illness and exhaustion in pets

As climate change progresses, be on the lookout for health problems that could be related to a changing environment. If your pet is coughing, sneezing, or has difficulty breathing, air pollution or allergies could be the culprit. Skin problems, such as rashes or excessive licking, could indicate climate-related stress. And if your pet is drinking more water than usual or urinating less often, they may be dehydrated.

If you notice any changes in your pet’s health, talk to your veterinarian.

Learn Animal First Aid

In an emergency, it’s essential to know how to care for your pet correctly. You may need to know how to administer CPR or other first-aid measures.

The American Red Cross offers an online pet first-aid class, which can teach you how to handle common emergencies. Or, download the Pet First Aid app, which contains veterinary advice for pet emergencies.

How to Prepare Your Finances for Climate Change

Change How you Invest

Choosing to invest in companies that help the environment is critical and bound to pay off in the long run. Sustainable investing supports companies that are trying to mitigate climate change.

When investing in sustainable companies, obvious choices are clean energy such as solar and wind power. But don’t forget companies that are leaders in climate-change mitigation, such as those involved in energy efficiency, water filtration and purification, and green building.

You can also support companies working to develop environmentally friendly products and services, such as sustainable agriculture, electric vehicles, and renewable energy storage.

electric vehicle charging station

Do your research before investing. And always consult with a financial advisor to ensure that any investments you make are suitable for you.

Update Your Insurance Coverage

As climate change leads to more adverse weather impacts, make sure your insurance coverage is up to date. This includes both your homeowners insurance or renter policies.

Be sure to check with your provider to see what is and isn’t covered in for climate-related disasters. You may need to purchase flood insurance or make sure you have adequate coverage for things like or evacuation expenses.

Move

Before you hunt for the perfect location, accept that every place will be affected in this new climate era. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed, but it does require a different way of thinking when making a move.

The first step is to educate yourself about the environment of your desired location. Research the area’s weather history, and pay attention to any severe weather events. You can also check out risk maps, which show the locations most vulnerable to sea-level rise, drought, and extreme rainfall.

No one can predict the future, but understanding the risks in a potential new environment will help you make a more informed decision.

Change Your Job

As the climate crisis continues, some jobs will become more dangerous, while others will become obsolete. Unless adaptation occurs, jobs that involve working outdoors will become increasingly risky as the earth’s temperature increases. And as we move away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy, oil and gas industry jobs will become obsolete.

If you’re concerned about your future, it may be time to consider a career change. Look for jobs in sectors working to mitigate the impacts from carbon emissions, such as renewable energy or sustainable agriculture or the climate science field.

men working at a wind turbine on a wind farm

You can also look for jobs that help people adapt to or recover from a warming planet, such as home remodeling.

Changing jobs is a big decision. Do your research and consult with a career counselor if necessary.

How to Prepare Your Business for Climate Change

Have a Plan

Just like you have an emergency plan for yourself and your loved ones, you should have one for your business.

Start by identifying the risks your business faces, such as wild weather events or electrical outages, or even droughts. Then, develop a plan for how you will deal with these risks.

For example, you may need to invest in backup generators or create an evacuation plan. You should also plan how you will keep your business running if your employees are unable to come to work.

Educate Your Employees

Your employees are your most valuable asset, so it’s essential to help them prepare for climate change.

Once you have developed your emergency plan, communicate it to your employees. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, make sure your employees know what to do in the event of a storm. And include relevant training in your safety procedures.

You may also want to consider offering benefits such as paid time off for those who lose their homes or need to evacuate.

Update Your Insurance

As we experience more adverse weather conditions, ensuring your business is adequately insured is essential. Ensure you have adequate property coverage and consider additional policies such as flood insurance or business interruption insurance.

image of an insurance policy

Be sure to check with your provider to see what is and isn’t covered in the event of a climate-related emergency. You may need to purchase additional coverage or raise your limits.

Protect Your Data and Documents

If the covid pandemic taught us anything, it’s that you never know when you may lose access to your physical business premises.

That’s why it’s vital to protect your data and documents by storing them offsite. Luckily, low-cost cloud-based storage services are readily available.

Re-evaluate Your Supply Chain

Ports, highways, and factories are being impacted worldwide by adverse weather conditions, and experts warn these disruptions will only worsen. That’s why it’s essential to map your supply chain in-depth and identify any potential risks. You should also ask your suppliers about the plans they have in place to respond to climate change disasters.

If possible, consider purchasing conditional business interruption coverage that protects you when a supplier can’t deliver.

Apply for Available Financial Aid

Many governments provide financial relief for businesses. In the United States, you should know how to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

If a natural disaster has impacted your business, you may qualify for unemployment assistance. Unlike regular unemployment, business owners may qualify. Payments begin the week after the president declares your region a disaster area and continue for 26 weeks.

Summary

Taking action protects lives. And knowing you did everything you could to prepare will give you a sense of control as you face this crisis head-on.

Climate change is a real and pressing issue, and it’s essential to immediately prepare for how it could impact your life. You can do many different things to get ready for whatever comes your way, so make sure to take the necessary steps to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your business.

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