Heatwaves may be annoying, but if you’re not careful they can march right into dangerous territory! In fact, according to 2015 data from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the most dangerous place to be during a heatwave is in a permanent residence with little or no air conditioning. A total of 15 heat-related deaths were recorded in just such settings during 2015.
And if you live with infants or aging loved ones, these heatwaves are especially risky.
High temperatures are hard on growing children, who may spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer months. Heat-related illnesses, skin conditions, and other issues can easily affect them if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
At the same time, it’s important to find sustainable solutions to the issue of heat. While running your AC unit all day might seem like the best option, it’s not always the smartest one. If you’re looking for effective, sustainable ways for you and your family to beat the heat without running your AC into the ground, here are a few great green cooling ideas you can try this summer.
- Plant Trees
Approximately 64% of homeowners are already upgrading their backyards, and if you’re one of them you should consider planting a tree or two. When properly placed, trees can provide much-needed shade and actually keep your home cooler and out of the direct sun.
- Close the Blinds
Did you know that when completely closed, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by an estimated 45% in your home? That’s right! A simple task can help you use less energy and keep your home a bit cooler.
- Schedule AC Maintenance
The most efficient AC units are inspected at least twice annually. If you are relying on your home air conditioning, it’s important that you take preventative maintenance steps to keep it running smoothly. If your HVAC appliances are more than 15 years old, they were designed before energy efficient appliances become standard.
According to pediatric sports medicine expert Dr. Troy Smurawa, pre-hydrating and frequent hydration are key to summer safety. “When [kids] exercise outside, one of the key things that we recognize is to make sure that they are taking frequent water breaks. We usually recommend every 15 to 20 minutes.”
- Avoid Mid-Day Outdoor Activities
If you’re looking at extreme temperatures for summer, it’s important that you get outside early in the morning or later in the evening. Health care professionals typically recommend avoiding time outside between 10 AM and 3 PM, as it’s when temperatures tend to rise into dangerous territory.
But above all else, it’s important to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke when you see them. Here are some important signs of each medical condition:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Loss of Consciousness
- Heavy sweating
- Cold or clammy skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Exhaustion or muscle weakness
If you notice any of these symptoms, whether in yourself or someone else, you should contact emergency services and take immediate action to remove the victim from any extreme heat.
It may not seem like sustainability and safety have anything in common, but the truth is that taking these preventative measures in your home and in your daily life during the summer months can make for a safer and more sustainable season. So before you burn out your AC while trying to cool your home, consider these green cooling alternatives!