Beat the Heat: Tips for Summer Survival
No matter where you live, the energy
crunch will affect us all--rolling blackouts are predicted in California over
the summer; New York City will likely experience power shortages; and the price
of gasoline may continue to rise. Brownouts will also affect more areas once
the hot weather hits. Even if your area is not vulnerable to blackouts or
brownouts, the following tips and strategies will help you survive those
energy-related challenges and keep you safe in the summer heat.
Here are some tips on making smart energy choices, protecting yourself from summer health dangers, staying safe in the sun and what to do in during power
outages. Get more help from other resources on the web or share this info with a friend.
Keep Your Cool - Make Smart Energy Choices
Concerned about the rising cost to cool
your home? Fortunately, there are strategies you can employ to reduce costs and
conserve energy and fuel without sacrificing comfort. The
Department of Energy's (DOE) "Consumer Energy
Information" web page is full of suggestions to improve energy
efficiency during hot weather. Check out their tips on
cooling your home and how to conduct an energy
audit. The Alliance to Save Energy's publication Power$mart
discusses how to improve energy efficiency in your home. Improving energy
efficiency means getting the most out of each unit of energy consumed. Some
examples include: installing a programmable thermostat or replacing standard
light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs which use less energy while
supplying the same amount of light.
Here are some things you can do to save
money and improve energy efficiency around your home:
- Clean or replace ventilation system
filters each month.
- Close shades on the sunny side of your
home on hot days.
- Install ceiling fans to help cool the
- Install a programmable
- Conduct a home energy audit or hire a
professional to conduct one and develop an energy efficiency plan for the whole
house. Check out DOE's online publication,
Home Energy Audits for more information.
- If your home uses electricity,
consider installing an energy-efficient heat pump.
- Consider replacing an older central
air-conditioning system with a newer "Energy-Star" rated system which
can be twice as efficient as existing equipment.
- Replace old style single-pane windows
with newer double-pane models, made with special materials to reduce energy
loss or reflect the sun's rays. The model recommended depends upon the climate
in your area.
Have you noticed lately that when you
fill your car up with gas, the price per gallon is higher than ever? Here are
some steps you can take to save money on gasoline:
- Keep your car tuned-up.
- Keep your tires properly
- Use cruise control when
- Minimize your speed.
- Buy the minimum octane gas recommended
for your car.
- Replace that old gas-guzzler with a
- Take public transportation whenever
possible, or join a car-pool.
- Map out your route so you can cover
multiple errands on each trip.
This is just a brief overview. For more
information check out these resources on the World Wide
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Summer Health Dangers
When the temperature soars and humidity
rises, it's time to take precautions to avoid dangerous health consequences
such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and overexposure to the sun. With heat
exhaustion and stroke, the most susceptible among us are seniors,
people with chronic illnesses. However, everyone is at risk. The early
symptoms of heat exhaustion can sneak up on us. Some people feel a bit
lightheaded and weak and might have a touch of nausea. The serious problems
develop when symptoms are ignored and additional fluids are not taken right
away. The primary cause of heat exhaustion is dehydration and a loss of
electrolytes such as sodium. Generally, try to stay well-hydrated and take in
extra salt (for those of you who can use salt). Drink even though you don't
feel like it - you can't count on your thirst mechanism to prompt you. Here are
the major symptoms of heat exhaustion and
heat stroke and some safety tips to help you cope with health
emergencies during the dog days of summer. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Body temperature usually normal or
only slightly elevated.
- Dry mouth.
- Fatigue, weakness.
- Nausea, sometimes
- Weak and rapid pulse.
- Cool, clammy, pale skin.
NOTE: Symptoms take time to develop -
sometimes several hours after dehydration occurs.Treatments for heat exhaustion:
- Get out of the sun and into a cool
- Drink more fluids (electrolyte sports
drinks may help), but don't drink too fast or you could become
- Eat salty snacks.
- Loosen clothing.
Be aware that heat stroke can come
after heat exhaustion, but it can also develop quickly and independently if
one's core body temperature rises too high.Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Very high body temperature (103
degrees or higher).
- Hot, dry, red skin.
- No sweating.
- Disorientation, hallucinations,
- Rapid breathing and fast pulse, then
slow breathing and weak pulse.
- Loss of consciousness.
NOTE: Symptoms can come on
Heat stroke can occur within 10 - 15 minutes of the first
symptoms. If treatment is not given immediately, permanent damage can occur to
STROKE IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. CALL 9-1-1 OR TRANSPORT VICTIM TO A HOSPITAL
Immediate care for
a heat stroke victim includes:
- Move person to cool place indoors or
in the shade outdoors.
- Lower body temperature as soon as
- Remove clothing and wrap person in a
wet sheet, or wet their cotton clothing.
- Fan person with electric fan or
manually (do not place wet items too close to electric fan).
- Place ice packs or cold compresses on
the neck, under armpits, and in the groin area.
- If child is unconscious, carefully
place them in cool water up to their neck.
- If child is conscious, try to get
them to drink cool water, slowly.
- Person may not be able to drink if
delirious (do not force them).
Too Much Fun in
Exposure to too much sun can cause
skin cancer, excessive wrinkling of the skin, cataracts, and suppression of
the immune system. The culprit that causes these problems is ultraviolet (UV)
radiation. The Environmental Protection
Agency's (EPA) publication
Sun, UV, and You teaches you how to protect yourself from excessive sun
exposure. Generally, it is wise to limit mid-day exposure from 10:00 a.m. to
4:00 p.m., wear sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of the UV radiation,
wear a hat, and wear protective clothing. Be sure to apply sunscreen lotion of
at least sun protection factor (SPF) 15 to exposed areas. Listen for the UV
Index forecast in your local weather forecast. The EPA publication Stay Healthy in the Sun
features a chart called "Using the UV Index" which describes the precautions
which should be taken at each level of the UV Index.
and Summer Heat
Whether a power outage in your home is
caused by a blackout or thunderstorm, during hot weather you can take the
following steps to prepare and cope while you wait for the electricity to come
- Stay on the lowest floor - usually the
coolest - and out of the sunshine.
- Slow down and wait until cooler times
during the day to do activities that are physically demanding.
- Dress in lightweight loose
- Drink, drink, drink - water and
non-alcohol drinks!! Don't wait until you feel thirsty - stay hydrated. In hot
weather, as much as 3-4 quarts per day are recommended while
- Avoid opening the fridge or freezer.
Food should be safe as long as the outage lasts no more than 4-6
- Avoid heavy meals, alcohol, and
caffeine -- all of which can make you feel hotter.
- Be sure to check on vulnerable people
you know -- seniors, people with disabilities, and children -- to see that they
drink enough and stay as comfortable as possible.
- If someone in your home requires
medical equipment that runs on electricity, consider purchasing a small
generator to use as a back-up.
- Keep a supply of flashlights,
batteries, and a battery-powered radio on hand. Try not to use candles as they
pose a fire hazard.
- Consider purchasing a battery-operated
- Unplug computers or other equipment
which might be damaged by an electrical surge when the power is restored, or
get surge protectors.
- When driving, be careful at
intersections - traffic lights may be out, creating a dangerous
For more information on
other popular consumer issues check out our Consumer Focus Archive.