The U.S. is experiencing a heat wave. On July 21, temperatures in at least 16 states exceeded 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius, affecting about 60 million people. As of July 24, it was the fifth straight day that the temperature reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Newark, New Jersey. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), it was the longest record ever.
In the week ending July 25, data from the National Center for Environmental Information of NOAA showed that 359 records were set or tied for daily high temperatures. The NWS predicts that temperatures will continue to rise in the coming days.
With the summer heat comes increased dangers for your family. Here are some tips on how to keep them safe and cool during the hottest months of the year.
Keep Your Home Cool
The first step to managing the summer heat is to keep your home cool. This can be done in several ways.
Close blinds and curtains during the day to block the sun’s heat and glare. Use interior window solar shades that block the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. This will help lower the house’s temperature and protect residents and the furniture from UV damage.
Open the windows at night to let in cooler air. Use a whole-house fan to pull the cooler air into the house and push hot air out through the attic vents. This is an energy-efficient way to cool your home. However, remember to only use the whole-house fan when the temperature outside is cooler than inside your house.
Set your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or 26 degrees Celsius to help reduce the load on your air conditioner. This will help you save money on your energy bill. When the temperature is extremely high, though, you can use fans in addition to your air conditioner.
Do not use the stove or oven for cooking during the day. This will add more heat to your home. Instead, use a microwave oven or grill outside.
Wear Cool, Loose Clothing
Ensure that you and your family are wearing cool, loose clothing. This will help you to stay cool and comfortable in the heat. Choose clothes that are made of natural fabrics, such as cotton. These are more breathable than synthetic fabrics and will help keep you cooler. Avoid dark colors as they absorb more heat. Light colors reflect heat, which will also help keep you cooler.
Wear a hat or scarf or use an umbrella when you go outside. This will help protect you from the sun’s rays and heat. Always bring a fan.
Keep Yourselves Hydrated
It is important to stay hydrated in the summer heat. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. The human body is made up of 60% water, so it’s essential to replenish what is lost through sweating. Drinking plenty of fluids will help keep your body temperature down and prevent dehydration.
Be sure to have cold water or sports drinks available outside. If you are going to be in the sun for an extended period, such as at a sporting event, make sure to bring along a cooler with ice-cold water and drinks.
Avoid sugary drinks and do not drink alcoholic beverages or caffeinated drinks as they can cause dehydration.
Watch for Signs of Heat Illness
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two forms of heat illness that can occur when the body cannot cool itself down. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, fainting, dizziness, headache, nausea, or vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler location and drink fluids. If the symptoms persist, seek medical attention.
Heat stroke is a more serious condition and can be fatal. Symptoms of heat stroke include skin that becomes red and dry, a high body temperature, fast pulse, dizziness, headache, confusion, or coma. If you see someone with these symptoms, call 911 at once and move them to a cool location. Wipe the person down with a cool, wet cloth or give them a cool bath and fluids to drink. Do not give them alcohol to drink.
Be Prepared for Power Outages
During a heat wave, there is an increased chance of power outages. Be prepared by having a plan in place and supplies on hand.
Have a plan for how you will stay cool if the power goes out. This may include going to a cooling center or staying with a friend or relative who has air conditioning.
Pack a bag with supplies that you will need if the power goes out. This should include items such as bottled water, non-perishable food, first-aid kit, medications, flashlights, and batteries.
By following these tips, you can help keep your family cool and safe during the summer heat. Stay safe and enjoy the summer.