Most people think of 97 degree highs when they hear the words “extreme heat,” but even temperatures in the upper 80s can cause health problems. When the temperatures are high, and especially when the humidity is high, your body’s ability to sweat and cool itself off decreases. This means that your body temperature can quickly rise to dangerous levels that can cause damage to your brain and vital organs.
Keep your home cool by following these tips:
- Install temporary window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
- Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
- Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades or awnings. Outdoor awnings can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.
- Keep storm windows up in the summer.
- Avoid using appliances such as washer and dryer (if on the main level), dishwasher and stove during the hottest periods of the day.
To avoid heat related illness or death, follow these simple tips:
- Drink lots of fluids – don’t wait until you are thirsty. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.
- Try to limit outdoor activities to morning and evening hours. Try to rest often in shady areas to let your body cool down.
- Never leave children or pets in a car, even if the windows are cracked or open.
The most important thing you can do is check on people you know who might be at risk, such as the elderly, people with chronic diseases, or people who are obese. Especially check on those who are reluctant to use or do not have an air conditioner. Remember, just a few hours in air conditioning can prevent heat related illness and death.