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  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

107: Keep Cool During Summer Power Outages

Howdy! I live in TX. My household lost power & water for about a week during the icepocalypse of 2021. My husband and I are from up north, so we had winterwear and whatnot to hold us over. But that's why any time our area hits extreme temperatures, I assume we'll have an outage. And, as renters, we aren't going to invest in a backup generator. However, there are methods for maintaining a cool(ish) home during a summer blackout.

As always, hydration is key. I store a lot of extra water. When my household finishes beverage containers, I clean them out and fill them with water. If I suspect an outage is coming, I fill the bathtub too. In excess heat, a damp cloth can help keep you cool. It can be placed on the forehead, neck, chest, and wrists. For pets, putting a damp cloth in their armpits and against their belly can be a gentle way to cool them off. The tub water can also be useful for flushing the toilet during a prolonged water outage. You don't want your home to become unsanitary, especially when hospitals are probably dealing with an influx of dehydration and sun-stroke victims. Avoid caffeine since it's a diuretic.

When our neighborhood had a brief power outage a week or so ago. I immediately went around closing all the blinds and laying blankets against the gaps under the exit doors, to keep the cool air in. You can buy under-door draft stoppers if you don't like throwing your blankets on the floor. I also closed off the rooms on the outer edge of the house, especially those with big windows. It's easier to keep a couple of rooms cool, than an entire home.

I have several ice trays that I keep full. If we're out of power, so are the nearby stores so I can't bank on buying bags of ice in an emergency. Keeping ice on hand is good for preserving fridge/freezer goods in the coolers. I would still ~try~ to buy ice in an emergency, to better fill the coolers. Plus, frozen goods can work as ice packs for cooling down.

It's a good idea to have battery operated fans and batteries, or a rechargeable fan.

It's best not to cook inside, or to only do so in the early morning and at night, since doing so will warm the home interior. I've got a hot plate and a portable battery for indoor cooking, and a grill for outdoor. In a the event of a prolonged outage, my husband would try to grill all of the meats, so they wouldn't go to waste. It's wise to maintain a stock of foods that don't require cooking. If stores are open, you can pick up some fruit, jerky and nuts. Peanut butter and honey are also calorie dense and are good for a long time so it's wise to always have those available.

A jello packet mixed in water is supposed to be similar to Pedialyte. I tried it to cure a hangover once and felt better very quickly, so I keep jello on hand now. I'm not suggesting this for infants nor pets, but maybe for adults who aren't feeling great in the heat. Alternatively, you could pick up actual Pedialyte.

Sunblock is great but wearing a wide hat is also useful for keeping cool outside. Breathable light colored clothes that act as a sun-shield are better for keeping cool than a tank top and shorts. Tight layers, dark colors, and direct sun exposure make for a dangerous combination at high temperatures. It's best to stay in as much as possible. Stepping out lets the hot air in. If you have to be outside, try to stay in the shade.

If you can nap during the day, so that you're more active in the early morning and at night, it'll make the heat more bearable.

Know the signs of heat exhaustion and sun stroke. The symptoms for heat exhaustion are: lethargy, dizziness, headache, nausea, excessive sweating and skin turning pale/clammy or getting a heat rash (though a change in skin color can be difficult to see on darker skin tones), arm/leg/stomach cramps, fast breathing/heartbeat, a high temperature, severe thirst, and general weakness. If suffering from heat exhaustion, immediately cool yourself down and drink fluids. As part of cooling down in a cool space, remove unnecessary clothing. This is a good time to wet a rag and lay it across your forehead/neck/chest/wrists. You should be recovered within a half hour.

The symptoms for heat stroke include: still being unwell after 30 minutes properly cooling off, a very high temperature, hot skin that's not sweating (might look red), fast heartbeat/breathing or shortness of breath, confusion, lack of coordination, a seizure, and loss of consciousness. In the event of sun stroke, immediately seek medical help.

If we received word that a power outage was expected to last more than 10 days, my household would go north to stay with family. While we human adults can handle high temperatures so long as we're taking reasonable precautions, it wouldn't be right to subject our dogs to that for longer than necessary. Our relatives live about a 2 day drive away, which is why we would at least try to stick it out in the first place.

Generally, hospitals are prioritized during rolling blackouts, and they have their own generators. So, if there aren't cooling centers in your area, a hospital lobby might hold you over while you figure out a plan. You can't bring pets into most cooling centers nor a hospital lobby though. If you have pets and can't stay home, and you don't have relatives/friends to lean on, try and find a hotel that allows pets and hasn't been impacted by the outage. Some hotels have their own generators.

If you live in a place that's prone to natural disasters, extreme temperatures, or outages, you need to have a plan for your household. I hope these tips are helpful to you when planning for summer outages. Thanks for stopping by. I drop a new blog post every Monday. Toodles!

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