In the 1995 national heatwave, 465 people died in Chicago, and more than 1,000 died across the nation (as reported by CNN). The heat index, which is what the air temperature feels like when humidity gets added in, rose to a sweltering 125 degrees. And in the coming “heat dome,” temperatures are expected to get nearly that hot across the entire nation, including the DFW Metroplex.
How Can You Stay Cool in Extreme Heat?
This, of course, would be the first question on your mind. If you live in a brick home or apartment, you’ll have to be doubly cautious because brick traps the heat inside.
Here’s what to do:
1. This Is Not the Time to Save Energy – Protect Your Health Instead!
Yes, at this blog we always talk about energy savings. Well, for now, you have to throw any thought of that out the window. Saving $200 or so isn’t worth jeopardizing your own life and the lives of everyone in your family.
Start by cranking up your AC.
2. But Beware, Cranking Up Your AC May Not Be Possible
In the 1995 heatwave that also hit Chicago, about 49,000 households were out of power. It happened because everyone turned their ACs on at once, and there wasn’t enough power to go around.
If that happens, understand that you are in an emergency situation that’s putting your life at risk. Call your nearest friends and family members and see if you can stay with them until the weather gets more bearable.
3. Simple Techniques You Can Use to Stay Cool
Chill your “pulse points,” which are your wrists and temples. Chill your face too. Simply run cold water over your wrists for a minute each hour or splash your face with cold water.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Consider eating spicy foods, which can make you sweat without raising your body temperature. You might also eat cold fruit or dairy products, if those suit your taste buds better than spicy and hot foods.
Keep hydrating yourself. Drink water even when you don’t feel thirsty. Don’t drink any caffeine or alcohol, as they only serve to dehydrate you.
Ideally, wear loose-fitting, light-colored, cotton clothing, which keeps you cooler than most synthetic materials. Consider taking frequent baths with cool water.
4. Watch Out for Signs of Heat-Related Illness
If you start to cramp up, feel faint, get confused easily, or feel dizzy, weak, or light-headed, you’re starting to feel signs of heat-related illness. If you sweat excessively and feel confused or faint or start experiencing seizures, call 911. For any symptoms less extreme than those, sit down, relax, drink some water, and cool down with ice packs and cold air. OSHA offers a more thorough guide for what to do in the event of various heat-related illnesses and symptoms.
With all that in mind, you’re now prepared for the intense “heat dome” that’s coming soon. Stay safe out there!