In many parts of the country, summertime comes with scorching temperatures. A heat wave can be dangerous, especially for those who are not prepared. How do you prepare your home and your body for extreme heat? Let’s talk about it! Stay safe and cool by following our tips on how to prepare for a heat wave.
How Do I Prepare My Home For a Heatwave?
A heatwave is a prolonged period of hot weather, typically four or more days when high-pressure systems sit over an area. While the weather during a heatwave may not be hazardous on its own, the combination of high temperatures and high humidity can be deadly, especially for young children, the elderly, and those with chronic health conditions. If a heatwave is forecasted for your area, there are several steps you can take to prepare for extreme heat.
- First, ensure that your air conditioner is operating correctly and that all windows and doors are sealed tight to prevent warm air from coming in. If you have window air conditioners, check to make sure they are working properly and that the space between the unit and the windows is sealed well.
- Stay hydrated, and be sure to have plenty of fresh, cold water on hand.
- Create a safe space in your home that is well-ventilated and cool, such as a basement or an attic, where you can retreat if your central air conditioning goes out and the temperature inside your home becomes too extreme.
- Weather strip doors and windows to keep the hot air out and cool air inside.
- If your rooms are in direct sunlight, add black-out curtains or heavy curtains to block the sun rays, especially during the hottest parts of the day (between 12:00-3:00 pm).
Taking these precautions ensures that you and your family stay safe and comfortable during a heatwave.
How Do You Prepare Your Body for Extreme Heat?
In hot weather, your body must work harder to maintain a normal body temperature. If you work outdoors or do intense outdoor exercise during high temperatures, you are at a higher risk for a heat-related illness.
Here are some preventive measures you can take to avoid heat stroke or heat exhaustion:
- It is vital to stay hydrated and avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day to help your body cope with the heat. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and avoid drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, as these can be dehydrating.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing that reflects heat and is made from natural fibers such as cotton. When you are outdoors, try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
- If you must be in the sun, wear a hat and use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. And be sure to take breaks frequently to rest in a cool, shady spot.
What Should You Not Do During a Heat Wave?
During a heat wave, there are a few things you should avoid doing to stay safe. Don’t over-exert yourself. Avoid strenuous activities, such as running or hiking during the day’s hottest hours. Avoid drinking alcohol.
Never leave children or pets in cars, even for a few moments. Vehicles can heat up quickly, and temperatures inside can become dangerously high.
In your home, don’t rely on fans as your only source of cooling. Fans circulate hot air and will not keep you cool when the temperature outside is very high. If you do not have access to air conditioning in your home, consider spending daytime hours at a community center or other public place where air conditioning is accessible.
What Are You Going to Do if a Heat Wave is Coming?
If a heat wave is coming, the best thing to do is to prepare in advance in order to keep air conditioners working properly and to prevent heat-related illness.
Check with the national weather service for any weather changes, and review the day’s heat index. Ensure you have plenty of cool, comfortable clothing and that your home is adequately ventilated. Have plenty of fluids on hand, and pack a cooler.
Stay out of the sun as much as possible, or wear a hat to block some of the sun’s harmful rays. If possible, stay in air-conditioned buildings or take advantage of other cool spaces, such as public pools or parks. Check on elderly or vulnerable loved ones, as they are more at risk for heat-related illnesses.
Summer Heat Safety Tips
Stay safe this summer and keep these safety tips in mind:
- Stay in air-conditioned locations as much as possible. The kids are home for the summer, and we know they want to be outside. During heat waves, try to choose activities that allow you to be indoors, such as visiting a local library, malls, movie theaters, or your local community center. If you choose to be outside, choose activities that allow you to stay cool such as swimming in a local pool, visiting a water park, or finding a local splash pad.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Even if you are not thirsty, drink plenty of fluids often. Water is the best choice, but you can also drink sports drinks or fruit juice which can replace the electrolytes in your body. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they tend to dehydrate you.
- If you have to be outside, be prepared. Be aware of areas where you can find shade and take breaks from sun exposure. Pack a cooler with plenty of healthy snacks and drinks. You can even pack a cool rag to take with you to cool off.
- Take cool showers. Cooler showers will cool your body temperature and keep humidity from building up in your bathroom and the rest of your home.
- Check on your neighbors and friends. Check on your loved ones and neighbors to ensure everyone is safe and cool. Reach out to vulnerable parties and see if they need assistance getting somewhere cool if they don’t have air conditioning or if theirs is broken.
- Never leave a child or pets in a car. During the extreme heat, it only takes a few minutes for a car to get dangerously hot. This is a life-threatening situation and can be avoided. Make sure when you’re exiting your vehicle always to check the backseat.
- Check your local news for weather, health, and safety update. For updates on your weather and safety tips, check your local news station. They can provide local community resources and partners that can help everyone stay cool and safe during extreme heat waves.
Extreme Heat Symptoms
If you are going to be out in the heat, be aware of these symptoms of heat stress and exhaustion. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may need to see a doctor.
- Cool, wet skin with goosebumps
- Heavily sweating
- Low blood pressure when standing up
- Muscle cramps (heat cramps)
- Weak, rapid pulse
If you experience any of these symptoms, stop what you’re doing and find a shady spot to rest. Drink some cool water and wait for your symptoms to subside. If they do not improve within an hour or begin worsening, contact your doctor or call 911.
Prepare Your House For Excessive Heat
No one wants to be stuck in a sweltering house during summer heat waves. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can also be dangerous, especially for young children and the elderly.
At Energy Monster, we specialize in helping homeowners maintain a comfortable temperature in their homes, even during the hottest days of summer. We offer various services such as insulation, air sealing, and heating and cooling options. We will work with you to find the best solution for your home and your budget. You could even qualify to save money by participating in the Mass Save program. Don’t wait for an excessive heat warning to take action- contact Energy Monster today!