Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave Without Air Conditioning

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The following steps can help you keep cool during a heat wave even if you have an air-conditioned home.

1.) Use box fans and ceiling fans to promote air circulation throughout your home. In the evening when the weather is cooler, open windows and promote as much air circulation as possible. Before the sun rises, close all windows, making sure to close curtains and blinds. This will keep the indoors cool for as long as possible.

2.) Take advantage of the cooling power of water. Fill buckets or basins and soak your feet. Wet towels and bandanas can also have a cooling effect when put them on the neck, shoulders, or head. Take cool showers or baths. Fill up a spray bottle with cold water and spritz yourself throughout the day.

3.) Stay downstairs. Since hot air rises, the upper stories of a home get warmer than the ground floor.

4.) Eliminate extra sources of heat. Computers, appliances, electronics, and even incandescent light bulbs generate unnecessary heat. Eat food that does not require you to use the oven or stove to prepare.

5.) Stay hydrated. Consume more water than you usually do, even if you are not thirsty. If you are sweating, you also need to replace electrolytes by eating a small amount of food or by drinking specially formulated electrolyte replacement drinks. Remember, thirst is the first sign of dehydration.

6.) Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as both can act as diuretics and promote dehydration.

7.) Don’t eat large, protein-rich meals. They can increase metabolic heat and warm the body.

8.) Make a homemade “air conditioning” system by sitting in the path of a box fan that is aimed at an open cooler or pan filled with ice.

9.) Visit public buildings with air conditioning. During the hottest hours of the day, go to your local mall, library, or movie theater.

10.) Be able to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses. (heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke). Call emergency services (911) if there is a heat emergency and try to keep the victim cool until help arrives.

11.) Check on elderly neighbors, friends, and relatives frequently to make sure they are cool and hydrated.

12.) Remember that pets also suffer when the temperature rises. Cooling animals by giving them a “cool” bath or shower will help keep their body temperatures down. Put a cool towel on a tile floor for them to lay on. Make sure they have plenty of cool water to drink.