With summer in full swing and temperatures heating up, many people want to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. While it can be fun to get out and enjoy the summer sunshine, it is important to take precautions before being too active in the heat.
Each year, extreme heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities. Thousands of people are hospitalized in the U.S. each year due to heat-related illness. That is why it is important to observe these simple safety tips to keep you and your family safe, healthy, and cool all summer long.
Staying Cool at Home
If the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory, it is a good idea to limit outdoor activity. Here are some measures you can take to make sure your home stays cool, safe, and comfortable during a major heat wave.
Start With Your Air Conditioner
Air conditioning is one of the great inventions of the modern world. During the extreme temperatures of midsummer, your air conditioner can be your best friend.
While it is best to schedule an AC tuneup in the spring, before temperatures become extreme, sometimes it is better late than never. Regular AC maintenance will help you avoid inconvenient breakdowns and help detect small problems before they become big ones.
Annual maintenance will also keep your AC unit running efficiently, saving you money on your summer cooling bills. Plus, it will extend the life of your system. This is not a service you want to skip. If your air conditioner hasn’t had a check-up recently, bow is the time to contact your local HVAC professionals to schedule a maintenance visit.
Have an Emergency Plan
If the electricity goes out or your air conditioner stops working, the temperature inside your home can rise rather quickly. Have a list of local places you can visit for relief from the heat, especially during the hottest part of the day. These places may include the public library, shopping malls, and movie theaters. If a power outage is widespread and lengthy, you may even consider your community emergency shelter or a local hotel where the power may still be working.
Easing the Burden on Your Air Conditioner
During peak heat, your air conditioner works hard to keep the inside of your home at a comfortable temperature. There are a few things you can do to help it cool more efficiently.
Cover your windows. Pull blinds and drapes, especially over windows that receive the afternoon sun. If your windows receive excessive sun exposure, consider installing awnings or louvers. This simple measure can reduce the heat entering your home by up to 80 percent.
Use fans strategically. A well-placed fan can help circulate air and make your home seem cooler. If your living space has a ceiling fan, be sure it is set to rotate to push air down. The breeze it creates will help you feel more comfortable. According to the U. S. Department of Energy, “If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.“
Avoid using appliances during the heat of the day. If you must use your oven, stove, or clothes dryer, wait until the sun goes down and temperatures begin to cool before turning them on. If possible, avoid using them altogether. Consider drying your clothes on a clothesline. FOr cooking, try using a slow cooker or table top grill.
Dress for Success
Even if you plan to stay indoors, you should still dress or the weather. When outdoor temperatures are extreme, shorts, skirts, short sleeves, and loose fitting clothing will help you keep your cool.
Also, choose natural fabrics that breathe in light colored hues. Darker colors absorb heat, making it more difficult for your body to stay cool.
Summer heat will make you sweat, making it important to drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to rehydrate. Instead, drink plenty of fluids throughout the course of the day. Adults should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily, although more may be necessary if you are active or the heat and humidity are intense.
If you are concerned about the heat, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks. These beverages can contribute to dehydration, increasing your risk of heat-related illness.
Learn to Recognize the Signs of Heat-Related Illness
Heat-related illnesses can be serious. It is important to know the warning signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other dangerous heat-related illnesses.
If you, or someone around you experiences any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
- Nausea or vomiting
- Confusion or disorientation
- Muscle cramps
- Fast or shallow breathing
- Clammy skin
- Rapid pulse
- Severe headache
- Loss of consciousness
While summer weather is the perfect setting for fun and recreation, don’t take chances with your health, hydration, or your air conditioner. Stay cool and drink plenty of water. If you need help with your AC, call your local HVAC experts to schedule emergency repairs or overdue routine maintenance.