When there's a heatwave, staying safe and cool are top priorities. The latest heatwave of 2022 is most likely related to a 2-degree Fahrenheit increase in global warming. I'm sweating, are you? Let's look at some tips for staying cool and protected during the hot summer days.
- Air Conditioning & Faux A/C
- UV-Blocking Clothes
- Protecting Furry Pets
Air Conditioning (A/C)
According to the Census Bureau, 91% of households in the U.S. have central A/C or window units. A/C is a great way to stay cool as the heatwave spikes temperatures across the country. Unfortunately, running A/C can get expensive and it puts incredible stress on the power grid.
Consider alternate ways to cool your home, like a homemade cooling system. A homemade cooling unit can be made using a bucket, fan, PVC pipe, and some ice to create a cool breeze in any room. Since you're going to make one for yourself, why not make a couple more and give them to elderly neighbors who don't have A/C.
Your basement can help cool your house too. Set a large fan at the base of the basement stairs to draw the cool air upward. Set a second fan on the landing at the top of the stairs to pull the cool air into the main floor. Using two fans to pull cool air from the basement has proven effective at our house and drops the indoor temperature by as much as 10 degrees.
Staying hydrated during the hottest days of the year is critical. Drink water before work, throughout the day, and with your dinner. The CDC recommends drinking 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes. Drink additional water when exposed to heat and sun for long periods throughout the day.
You'll need to wear sunscreen if you want to avoid frying like a hotdog over an open fire. Wearing sunscreen will help protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays and prevent skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a broad spectrum sunscreen. The SPF (sun protection factor) should be 15 or higher for daily, occasional exposure, and 30 or higher when outdoors for extended periods. Remember to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and immediately after swimming or sweating.
Wearing sunglasses decreases your risk of developing cataracts, protects the delicate skin around your eyes, and can lower your risk of eye cancer. The Mayo Clinic recommends sunglasses with broad spectrum protection or those that block UVA and UVB rays. Put sunglasses on your kids as early as possible. When you set a good example by wearing sunglasses consistently, your children will want to emulate you.
Despite the heat, many of us have to be outdoors at some point. We expose ourselves to the sun while walking the dog, waiting for a bus, and gardening, for example. Clothing with built-in UV protection (UVP) saves your skin from sun exposure, lowering your chance of skin cancer. UVP clothing includes tops and bottoms that take the place of sunscreen. With my pale Irish skin, I swear by UVP clothing, including a long-sleeved swimsuit coverup. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, "a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98% of the sun's rays." Now that's protection from the sun!
Protect Furry Pets
While protecting yourself from the heat, make a plan to protect your pets too. If your pets have to be outdoors while you're at work, ensure they have plenty of fresh water, shade, and possibly an indoor space like a dog house. Walk your dog during the coolest part of the day and carry water to hydrate them along the way. Your dogs will appreciate a kiddie pool filled with fresh water to cool them off during hot days.
Cats and dogs not only appreciate fresh water but also a fan during high temperatures. Try placing a sturdy fan on the floor (solid surface) and set it on low speed. Your pets may gravitate near the fan, and it will also keep you cooler. I do this for my large dog, who lays in front of it every night.
Houseplants Need Help Too
Houseplants often suffer during heatwaves. My plants love the light in a corner room of my house, but when the temperatures rise into the 90's and 100's, they struggle (no air conditioning, folks!). In addition to the summer heat, blasting A/C can negatively affect the health of house plants. For plant that really struggle in a hot room, temporarily move them to a cooler space during the hottest months. The following tips, from Popular Science, will also help you care for your plants during high temperatures:
- Keep tropical plants away from A/C vents
- Put a plate of rocks covered in water under your plants (increases humidity)
- Use a glass bell jar or terrarium to stabilize humidity
We hope these tips will keep you cool and safe during the year's hottest days. Remember to look out for elderly and disabled neighbors who might not have A/C. Make sure your pets have plenty of water and a shady area to stay protected from the sun. Before you know it, we'll be past these harsh months and on to the respite of autumn. Please share your creative solutions for staying cool this summer in the comments. We can't wait to see what you've concocted!