Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beat the Heat

Now that we have lived in Las Vegas for a couple of years, seeing temperatures over a hundred degrees has become routine.  However, for much of the rest of the country that is now suffering under a heat wave that is covering a fairly good piece of real estate in the northeast, high heat coupled with high humidity can be deadly.  Here's some tips for beating the heat:

  • Go where it is cool (indoors if you have air conditioning, shopping malls or the library if you don't).  Keeping cool is, obviously, the best way to beat the heat.
  • If you don't have central air (most houses in the Northeast don't), consider getting a window air conditioner and keeping only one room in your home cool where everyone can hang out (obviously it is better to buy this unit on sale, at the end of the season, and not at the height of the heat wave when prices are jacked up and/or they are sold out).
  • If you normally sleep on the second floor, consider sleeping the the basement where it is cooler.
  • Portable fans are a good go-to for basic cooling.  Fans blowing air over a tub of ice is even better.
  • Do all of your outdoor activities in the early morning or the evening.  In cases where the temperature never really "goes down", consider suspending outdoor activities until the heat wave breaks.
  • Stay hydrated.  It's easy to forget to drink extra water when the temperature rises but staying hydrated is the best way to ward off dehydration (and its symptoms which can range from nausea and dizziness to coma and death).
  • Break out your first aid manual and refresh your memory on how to treat sunburn, dehydration, and heat stroke (obviously in life threatening cases, call 911 and skip the self-help).
  • Check on elderly friends and neighbors (the ill and elderly often have difficulty regulating their body temperature and can more easily suffer heat maladies.  They also may not have the money/ability to set up their home to beat the heat).
  • Know where cooling shelters are located.  You may not need them but in the event of a power outage which kills your AC, you may need to seek shelter away from home.
  • If you do need to be outside during the heat of the day remember to dress appropriately (long pants, long sleeve shirt, a hat, 30+ SPF sunscreen lotion, a bandanna that you can soak in water and put over your head or around your neck, etc).
  • Better yet, if you usually work outside, ask your boss if you can start really early (4am or so) and finish early so you can avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day.
  • Head for the hills.  Cities are hot.  All of that concrete radiates heat and the temperatures can rise dramatically.  If you have the option of heading out for a few days, setting up camp near a river of stream in the cool mountains may be just the thing.
  • Make sure your car is in good working order.  Fuel your car when it is cool.  Check the air in your tires. Make sure your tires are in good condition (every year in Las Vegas stories of blown out tires  due to poor condition mixed with super hot roadways and the ensuing fatality accident make the news).  In addition, keep extra bottled water in your car and if your car looks like it wants to overheat, pull over and let it cool off before proceeding.
  • Carry an umbrella.  It's unusual in the US but in many hot countries people carry their own shade--an umbrella.
  • Make sure you have cash on hand, a small stockpile of food, a stockpile of bottled water...basically all of the things you need to survive should the electricity go out (which it often does when everyone has their AC cranked up for days at a time thus overloading the electrical grid).
  • Make sure your pets have plenty of water and access to shade or an area to cool off.
  • NEVER leave anyone in the car, even if just for a few minutes.  This includes the kids, the pets, and grandma.  Temperatures in a closed car can spike quickly and cause death in minutes.
  • Open the shades in your home in the morning and air out your house.  As soon as temps rise, close up your house like a tomb in order to keep the heat out.
  • Don't use appliances that will heat up your house.  This includes the oven, the clothes dryer, and even the TV (which can put off a great deal of heat).
  • Eat cooling foods--watermelon, cold sandwiches, salads, etc.

1 comment:

  1. Stay in shade (obviously) or at least in the wind, move sloowly and take frequent work breaks. The wet bandanna works, but even better is soaking your shirt, that is instant relief and lasts for quite a while.

    If hiking is in the cards, freezing a 2 liter soda bottle solid with water and placed in your pack makes for a source for a cold drink. Many desert rescue teams keep these as a matter of course.

    Great tips above - thanks CI.