With summertime just around the corner, burgers on the grill won’t be the only thing that'll be sizzling. It's going to be H-O-T, which means it's more important than ever for Texans to stay cool under these conditions.
Whether you're lounging inside or having fun in the sun, the extra heat and humidity present danger to people who are at risk for heat-related illnesses. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious medical conditions that can cause severe disability, hospitalization, or worse.
In this post, we'll cover seven simple ways to stay safe in the Texas heat.
1. Check on Your Air Conditioner
To prepare for times of extreme heat, make sure your A/C is running smoothly.
First, you should change your air filter. Experts recommend changing your air filter at least once every 90 days. You should also look for any debris that may be around your A/C unit that could be blocking airflow.
Texas utility providers have a variety of programs that you may be able to take advantage of as well. Some provide free A/C tune-ups, while others offer large rebates on new and efficient HVAC equipment.
2. Prepare for Any Power Outages
As the summer heats up, A/C usage will begin to increase across the state. During time periods of extreme heat, all this A/C consumption can put a strain on the electric grid and cause a power outage.
Power outages during a heatwave can be deadly, so it's important to be prepared for its possible occurrence. Here are a few steps that you can take to do that:
- Build an emergency supply kit
- Consider buying a generator as a backup power system
- Have alternative cooling devices such as battery-powered fans
If you do build an emergency supply kit, ensure you have plenty of food and water for everyone in your household. This food should be made up of non-perishables, like canned goods and dried fruits.
3. Stay Hydrated Even if You're Not Thirsty
We all know the importance of staying hydrated during hot weather. Most of us are compelled to drink water only when we are thirsty or exercising. However, you can be dehydrated without realizing it. Therefore, it is critical to recognize the tell-tale signs of dehydration, like fatigue and dark-colored urine, so you know when that glass of water is sorely needed.
You can also eat your water. Watermelon, hence the name, contains 92 percent of water. Other foods with a high water content are:
Another bonus is the additional vitamins and nutrients make for a delicious and nutritious treat all summer long.
4. Limit Time Spent Outdoors
As fun as spending the summer outside can be, in extreme heat, limiting your time outdoors can help you stay safe. But the fun doesn’t have to stop. Here are two cool ways to keep the momentum going.
- Play A Board Game – Any board game can be a perfect way to pass the time and interact with friends on a hot summer day.
- Paint With Colored Ice – This activity is great for kids and easy to do. All you need is water, an ice cube tray, food coloring, and popsicle sticks. Learn how to make your own ice paint here.
5. Wear Loose & Light-Colored Clothing
Dressing appropriately for the summer weather is a must. The key is to wear light-colored loose clothing. Loose clothes permit better airflow and light colors help to reflect away the heat. Try not to layer with more than two pieces of clothes. Fabrics such as linen and cotton are known for their breathable, moisture repelling ability.
6. Better Safe Than Sunburned
Your skin is your largest organ, so protecting it from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is essential. These rays are responsible for sunburn, and sunburn can lead to skin damage like dark spots, rough spots, wrinkles, and dry skin. Perhaps more importantly, it can raise your risk of dangerous skin cancers.
Aside from wearing the light-colored loose clothing that covers all your skin, sunscreen is one of the most important things you can wear to protect yourself from the sun. These sunscreens work by reflecting, scattering or absorbing UV rays before they have a chance to damage your skin.
It is recommended to use sunscreen with the sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher for outdoor use. SPF 30 protects approximately 97 percent of ultraviolet B light (UVB) which is the primary cause of sunburns. Apply sunscreen around 30 minutes before sun exposure. If you're at the beach or pool, apply sunscreen every two hours after water exposure.
If you do get sunburned, seek treatment right away. Sunburned skin is drier than the rest of the body, so be sure to drink extra fluids and treat your skin with aloe vera gel to promote healing. To help reduce any swelling, itching, or discomfort, try taking aspirin or ibuprofen.
Keeping the Elderly Safe
Older people are especially vulnerable to extreme heat and it's extremely important for them to be extra cautious and follow all the tips on this post.
First, you should know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, so you can go to the hospital if need be.
But of course, the goal is not to get to that point in the first place. To do that, ensure that you drink plenty of fluids, even if you are not thirsty. Elderly people are more prone to dehydration than younger people.
If you or a loved one relies on electric medical equipment (respirators, ventilators, power wheelchairs, etc.), it's extremely important to prepare for a power outage. The best way to do that is to purchase a gas-powered generator.
The Texas summer heat can be unforgiving but the key to having a great summer is by preparing and planning. By following these steps above, you can have fun in the sun and look cool doing it.