YOU CAN COOL DOWN at COLONIAL LANES
Surviving a heat wave is a combination of recognizing that you, your family, and your community are at risk during a period of prolonged heat and knowing what to do to reduce the risks. As part of this, it is important to also keep an eye out on people for whom you are personally responsible, and for helping members of your community where possible.
Close your blinds. Close your blinds and curtains during the day to block the sun’s heat. As soon as the sun hits your building in the morning, close all windows and keep exterior doors and windows closed throughout the hottest part of the day. Do this until night falls and it’s cool enough to open the windows for the night.
For even better protection, get aluminized blinds or insulated curtains (or use removable sheets of reflective bubble insulation, or cardboard cut to size and covered in foil.) If possible, go around the outside of your house and clip sheets over the OUTSIDE of the house, especially on the south side (or north side if you live south of the equator). These exterior curtains you rigged up will keep the sun’s heat from getting anywhere near your window frame, but still let a breeze through. You can even rig a temporary “porch” awning out of broomsticks and sheets.
Open the windows at night. Open selective windows so that cooler night air is blowing in throughout the evening. Leaving all interior doors open (including closets and kitchen cabinets) helps, too. If you leave them closed, they store the daytime heat and your house won’t cool off as much at night.
- Be sure to get up and close the windows and blinds as soon as the sunlight hits your house. This can be as early as 5 or 6 in the morning in some areas.
Sleep cooler. If the heat is keeping you from resting at night, try these ideas:
- Put a small pillow in the freezer an hour or two before you go to bed. Put a few plastic shopping bags over it to keep ice from forming on the fabric.
- Hang up your bedding in the coolest part of the house during the day. As soon as you get up, take your bedding to the coolest room in the house (in the basement, or where there’s the most shade) and hang up the blankets and sheets so that each side is exposed to the air. Take them down and put them back on your bed just before you go to sleep.
- Use silk or satin pillowcases, and sateen sheets. These fabrics will feel smoother and cooler as you sleep.
Just add water. The relief is almost immediate, and will last for up to one hour or more.
- Drink water frequently. Your body will feel cooler if you are hydrated. Try drinking eight ounces of water at least every hour. Adding mint leaves, or orange, lemon or cucumber slices to your water makes it more refreshing.
- Keep the back of your neck in shade (wear a cap backwards, or raise your collar) or put a wet handkerchief on the back of the neck. The sensor for our body temperature control system is in this area, and so with this method you can make the rest of your body think that you are “cool”.
- Place or tie an icepack behind your head.
- Wet all your hair, or just all along the hairline in a pinch. The evaporation of the water will cool your head (though it may make your hair a bit frizzy if it’s curly!).
- Wear a bandanna with water soaked on it and put it on your head.Or you can relive the 80’s and wear a wet terrycloth headband on your forehead.
- Try using a water misting fan. These portable devices are battery operated so you can take them with you wherever you go. As you mist and fan yourself, the water is evaporated on your skin, giving you an instant cooling sensation.
Cool down your house with fans. Position a ceiling fan, an upstairs window fan or an attic fan to draw off the heat collected in upper rooms and push the heat outdoors. Set up your portable fan so that the fan sucks up cooler air from the floor below, and blows hot air upwards towards the ceiling.
Make a DIY air conditioner. Put a metal bowl of ice in front of a fan, and adjust the fan so that the air is blowing over the ice. Or, use one or more 2 liter bottles and fill them mostly full of water, freeze them, then place them in a large bowl (to catch dripping water). Position a fan to blow on them. As the ice in the bottles melts, the air cools around them. The fan will blow that air at you. The water in the bottles can be frozen overnight and used again repeatedly.
- You can also turn on your stove fan (on the ventilator hood) or open up your chimney flue. These will also draw hot air out of the house and pull cooler evening air into the house.
Turn off all heat sources. Don’t use the stove or oven to eat. Eat cold food, or use the microwave. Incandescent light bulbs also create heat – switch to compact fluorescents or LEDs. Turn off your lamps and your computer when you’re not using them. You should also turn off your TV since it gives off a lot of heat, as well as some plug-in power adapters.
Avoid steam. During the day, don’t take a hot shower, wash dishes and clothes or cook until after dark. Make sure your pot lids are tight-fitting. Make sure the door gasket seals on your oven, washer and dishwasher are in good shape and have no breaks or rips.
Put smooth white fabrics over anything in your house that’s fuzzy. For example, you could cover corduroy pillows with white satin pillowcases for summer, put linen slipcovers over wool sofas, or just throw white sheets over furniture. Light-colored fabric will reflect heat instead of absorbing it, and the smooth texture will give you an impression of coolness.
Insulate your home. A home that has well-insulated walls and attic will actually keep the heat out of the house in hot seasons. Just imagine your home as a gigantic Styrofoam cooler! There are lots of insulation options to choose from, including types that can be conveniently blown into your walls without much hassle. Another bonus is that there may be government grants to help offset the cost of this kind of upgrade.
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