It’s hot outside. Really hot. If you’re a homeowner or homesteader, you’re probably starting to prepare your home for a heat wave that’s headed your way. Don’t worry, you’re not alone – everyone is scrambling to try and stay cool!
Some areas in the country are experiencing or will experience dangerous levels of heat based on the Heat Index forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While some states will be hotter than others, everyone should take precautions to stay safe and comfortable during a heat wave. Here are some tips on how to prepare your home for a heat wave:
Heat-proof your home
Most homes nowadays have some type of air conditioning, but not everyone can afford to keep it running 24/7. Also, if it gets dangerously hot outside, your AC may have a difficult time keeping up. In fact, air conditioners are not designed to cool a home more than 20 degrees below the temperature outdoors. So, if it’s 100 degrees outside, your AC can only cool your home to 80 degrees. That may not be enough to keep you comfortable, especially if you have young children or elderly family members in your home. Here are some tips to help heat-proof your home:
1. Insulate your home
One of the best ways to prepare your home for a heat wave is to make sure it’s well-insulated. Insulation prevents heat from entering your home. It will also help keep the cool air in. Start by checking the insulation in your attic. If it’s old or damaged, you may need to replace it.
You can also insulate your windows with special window film or blinds. Another good thing about having insulation is that it helps lower your energy consumption, which is great for your wallet.
2. Seal up any gaps or cracks
Devote a few hours of your busy life to thoroughly check your home for cracks, gaps, and holes. The cool air inside can seep out through these cracks while hot air outside can also enter your home through them.
For minor damages, you can seal them yourself. All you need is some kind of sealant or crack filler like caulk, weather stripping, or cement. But for bigger cracks and holes, you’ll need to hire a professional. They can also check if your home is still structurally safe.
3. Invest in a whole-house fan
A whole-house fan can help circulate the air in your home and keep it cool. It’s especially useful at night when the temperature outside is cooler than inside. Just open up your windows and let the fan do its job. You’ll notice the difference right away. Don’t forget to close your windows once your home is cool enough. You may be tempted to leave them open all night, but that could make you a target for burglars. Bugs and other critters can also come inside, and you don’t want that.
4. Use Fans Strategically
If you don’t have a whole-house fan, use what fans you already have. You just need to place them strategically so that air is properly circulated all throughout your home. Another good idea is to use ceiling fans. They can help distribute the cool air evenly and make a room feel cooler. Use them in conjunction with air conditioning or instead of AC to save on energy costs. You can set them to spin counterclockwise so heat is pushed down instead of up.
Open doors to rooms that aren’t being used so air can circulate better. You can also close doors to rooms that you want to keep cool, like your bedroom.
5. Avoid using heat-producing appliances
Your oven and stovetop generate heat, so it’s best to avoid using them as much as possible during a heat wave. Instead, opt for no-cook meals like salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. If you must cook, do it outside on the grill. However, you need to take extra precautions since it may be too hot outside. It’s best to avoid grilling food during a heat wave.
Another heat-producing appliance you should avoid using during a heat wave is your dishwasher. The heat it creates will make your home even hotter. If you have a lot of dirty dishes, try washing them by hand. You can also use the dishwasher’s air-dry setting to avoid using any heat.
Avoid turning the lights on, especially during the day when it’s really hot outside. The heat from the light bulbs will make your home even hotter. If you need to turn the lights on, use LED bulbs. They produce less heat than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.
6. Keep the heat out
Keep the windows closed during the day. By closing them while the heat is at its high, you will be trapping the cool air inside and keeping the heat out. Then, when the temperature drops at night, you can open your windows to let the cooler air in. Just make sure to close and lock them again before going to bed to keep intruders out.
Use window coverings to keep the heat out. Heavy curtains, drapes, and blinds will help to insulate your home from the heat. In fact, blackout curtains and shades reduce heat gain by up to 25%. They also provide privacy from nosy neighbors and thieves looking for their next target so you definitely have to invest in them.
If you have plantation shutters, use them! Heat waves are the perfect time to take advantage of them. They can reduce heat gain by as much as 30%.
You can also use aluminum foil or any reflective film on your windows. The heat will bounce off the window reflectors thus keeping the heat out of your home. This is especially helpful if you live in an urban area where heat radiates off of buildings and pavement.
7. Install green roofs
If you want to take your heat wave preparation up a notch, consider using a green roof. A green roof is a roof that’s covered in plants and vegetation. Not only does it help keep your home cooler, but it also helps absorb rainwater and prevents it from flooding your home. It’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment.
8. Store water
High temperatures can affect the water supply. Aside from a higher evaporation rate, water usage will be higher during a heat wave. Extreme heat can also cause water pipes to burst. So, it’s important to store water in case your tap water is contaminated, in low supply, or cut off entirely.
9. Stock up on supplies
Aside from water, you should also stockpile food and other items you’d normally need to go out to buy. During a heat wave, it can be dangerous outside so it’s best to stay indoors. This means you need to have enough food, water, and other supplies to last you until it’s a lot safer to go outdoors.
10. Prepare for power outages
Heat waves can cause power outages. With so many households and businesses using air conditioning and fans, the demand for energy is high. This can overload equipment and lead to blackouts. It’s also possible for the heat to be too much for the grid to handle and parts of it may shut down to prevent an overload. In both cases, you can be without power for hours or even days. So, it’s important to be prepared for power outages.
Fuel-powered generators produce heat so they may not be the best alternative power source during a heat wave. Invest in solar panels and portable solar generators instead and take advantage of the sun’s power. There are systems that can power a household though you should have portable solar chargers for your devices.
You still need to prepare emergency gear necessary during blackouts. Candles, oil lamps, and bonfires produce heat and can be dangerous so use them sparingly. Instead, invest in rechargeable LED lights, battery-powered lanterns, and solar lights. Make sure you have plenty of batteries on hand.
Food spoilage is another heat-related issue during power outages. Without power, your fridge and freezer won’t be able to keep food cold. A cooler will help. There are solar coolers that don’t require ice and will keep your food fresh for days.
Always keep ice cubes and frozen water bottles or hydration packs in the freezer. When the power goes out, you can let the ice melt and still have cold water to battle the heat. You can also keep them in your cooler to help keep food and other drinks cold.
11. Learn first aid for heat-related illnesses
Heat waves can cause heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These illnesses occur when your body is unable to cool itself down. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include fatigue, thirst, headache, and nausea. Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, fainting, and seizures. It’s important to know what to do if you or someone nearby starts to experience these symptoms. Call 911 immediately and provide first aid by moving the victim to a shady area, loosening or removing tight clothing, and applying cold compresses to the forehead, neck, and chest. Fans can also be used to help cool them down. If the person is able to drink, give them sips of water.
Protect your garden from the heat
Homesteaders, farmers, and those with gardens will have their hands full during a heat wave. The heat can quickly dry out the soil and kill your plants. To prevent this from happening, you can do the following:
1. Water your plants
Make your plants get enough sustenance by watering them deeply and regularly. Hand watering is better since you can control the amount of water you use. Also, you can aim your watering can directly at the area that needs to be watered. By doing so, you avoid wasting too much water which is a must during a heat wave. Water your plants early in the morning while it’s still not too hot. If you water when the sun is in its full glory, the water will evaporate too fast. This is a waste of precious resources and will leave your plants dehydrated still.
2. Use mulch
Mulching is a gardening technique that helps conserve water and keep your plants cooler. It does this by creating a barrier between the soil and heat. There are different types of mulch you can use like wood chips, straw, grass clippings, and leaves. Light-colored mulch such as straw is the best choice since it reflects sunlight.
3. Provide cover
Don’t forget to provide some shade for your plants during the heat wave. Use temporary protective covers like a tarp, cloth, or anything else that will block the sun without reducing aeration. Ensure there’s enough ventilation so the heat doesn’t get trapped and damage your plants.
4. Monitor your plants
Keep a close eye on your plants and watch out for signs of heat stress. These include wilting, drooping, and leaves that are yellow or brown. Take action immediately if you see these signs to prevent further damage.
5. Plant heat-resistant varieties
If your area is prone to high temperatures, choose heat-resistant plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants for your garden. Herbs like basil, oregano, and sage can also handle the heat.
Be careful when tending to your crops and plants. Make sure you’re well protected from the heat. Wear loose, light-colored clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Stay hydrated and take breaks in the shade often.
Take care of your pets during a heat wave
Pets and livestock can also be affected by heat waves. In fact, at least 49 pets have died of heat-related causes so far in 2022, according to PETA. Many of the casualties were dogs left inside a car or outdoors without proper shade for an extended period. Some of the pet owners were charged with animal cruelty. Take good care of your beloved pets during a heat wave by doing the following tips:
1. Keep them indoors
If possible, keep your pets inside your home. That way, they’ll enjoy the same steps you take to protect yourselves from the heat. You can also let them play around outside early in the day and take them inside before the heat hits its peak.
2. Provide shade and ventilation
If your pets have to stay outdoors, make sure they have plenty of shade and ventilation. The same goes for livestock and farm animals. Set up a shady spot for them using an umbrella or a tarp. Put a fan near their resting area to keep them cool and comfortable.
3. Give them enough water
Pets and livestock need to stay hydrated just like humans do. Give them access to clean, fresh water at all times. If you’re taking your pets for a walk, bring a water bottle for them, too. You can even put some ice in their water bowl to keep it cool.
4. Avoid hot surfaces
Hot pavements and asphalt can heat up quickly, making it painful for your pet to walk on. If you really need to take your pet out, do so early in the morning or when the sun is starting to go down. Also, let them walk on grassy areas instead of on concrete or asphalt.
5. Let them play in the water
You shouldn’t be wasting water during a heat wave but one way to keep dogs and cats safe in such a situation is to let them have some fun in the water. Set up a small pool for them. Just clean the water when they’re done so that they can use the pool as long as possible. A sprinkler is too wasteful so use it only when necessary.
For pet birds, you can mist them with water or put a container of water in their cage. While you’re at it, help the birds in the area by setting up a bird bath in a shaded area.
6. Never leave pets in a parked car
This is one of the most important things to remember during a heat wave. Never, ever leave your pet in a parked car, even for a few minutes. The temperature inside a car can rise quickly, leading to heatstroke and death. If you see a pet in a parked car, call the police or animal control immediately.
Tips for staying cool during a heat wave
The best way to stay cool during a heat wave is to avoid being outside during the hottest hours of the day. But even when you’re at home, it can still be difficult to stay cool. Aside from the heat-proofing tips for your home mentioned above, here are some other things you can do:
1. Drink lots of fluids
This one’s pretty obvious. You need to stay hydrated during a heat wave. Drink lots of water even if you’re not thirsty. And avoid sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages since they can actually cause dehydration.
2. Use a fan or air conditioner
Stay in an air-conditioned room as much as possible. Use fans to circulate the cool air better. If you don’t have an air conditioner, place a bowl of ice in front of a fan and stay in front of it. Don’t forget to make more ice so you’ll have enough supply to help you cool down the whole day and night.
3. Put a wet towel over your neck or head
This is a really simple yet effective way to cool down quickly. Soak a towel in cold water, wring it out, and then put it over your neck or head. You can also do this with a bandana or even a shirt.
4. Take a cold shower or bath
Another great way to lower your body temperature is to take a cold shower or bath. This will help you cool down quickly and make you feel more refreshed.
5. Wear loose, light-colored clothing
Tight and/or dark-colored clothes can make you feel hotter since they don’t allow your skin to breathe. Loose, light-colored clothing will help keep you cool by letting heat escape from your body. Wear materials that wick sweat away from your skin, too.
6. Wear a hat or use an umbrella
When you go outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat or use an umbrella to protect yourself from the heat of the sun. This will help prevent direct contact of heat on your skin.
7. Avoid heat-related activities
Doing strenuous activities in hot weather can be dangerous since it can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke. So avoid going out in the heat, working in a hot environment, or exercising during a heat wave. If you must do any of these things, make sure to take frequent breaks in a cool, air-conditioned area.
8. Avoid going outside during the hottest hours of the day
If you can help it, stay indoors during the hottest hours of the day, which is usually from 11 AM to 3 PM. If you need to go outside, try doing so early in the morning or when the sun starts to go down.
9. Stay in a cool, shaded area
If you need to go outside for an extended period of time, try to stay in a cool, shaded area as much as possible. If you’re on foot, walk under shaded paths, tall trees, and high structures.
10. Use sunscreen
Don’t forget to put on sunscreen before going outside. This will help protect your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply it every two hours, or more often if you’re sweating or swimming.
11. Use a misting fan
If you’re going to be outside for a while and it’s just too hot, use a misting fan to keep cool. These fans use water to cool the air around you and can really help on a hot day.
12. Check on elderly family members and neighbors
Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions are more at risk for heat-related illnesses. So make sure to check on your elderly family members and neighbors during a heat wave. If they don’t have air conditioning, offer to let them stay with you or at least spend some time in your cool home.
The weather is heating up and we wanted to make sure you’re prepared. From staying hydrated to dressing for the weather, we have all the tips you need right here. And if you want to learn more cool survival tips, be sure to check out Gentleman Pirate Club.