Summer in Ohio brings yard work, pool time and barbecues. It also brings with it heat and humidity that can, at times, be oppressive.
According to the National Weather Service, a heat advisory is issued when the heat index is forecast at 100 degrees or higher for at least two days. This can occur when air temperatures reach 84 degrees or higher and the relative humidity is anywhere from 45-100 percent (depending on the temperature).
If a heat advisory of any kind, especially an excessive heat watch or warning, is issued you should take precautions to avoid heat illness.
Before the extreme heat arrives
- Make sure your air conditioner is working properly. It's always a good idea to have it serviced in spring before things heat up outside. Better yet, look into upgrading to a newer, more efficient system.
- Install a programmable or Wi-Fi enabled thermostat. Proper use can save you about $180 every year in energy costs. Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) offers homeowners rebates on programmable and Wi-Fi enabled thermostats when installed with a new HVAC system.
- If you use a window air conditioner, make sure it's the appropriate size and sealed properly.
- Change or clean your air filter once a month. Dust and dirt make your unit work harder. Additionally, vacuum registers and vents regularly, and don't let furniture and draperies block cooling airflow.
- Ready.gov recommends installing temporary window reflectors, such as aluminum-foil covered cardboard, between windows and drapes to reflect heat back outside. You also should cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades or awnings.
When things heat up
- Be smart about your thermostat settings. The recommended settings are 78 degrees when you are home or higher when you're away. The higher you have your thermostat, the less stress on your air conditioning unit and the lower your energy bills.
- If you don't have air conditioning, use box fans and ceiling fans to move air through your home. Open windows and doors and put the fans in front of them to push air through the house. Close windows when the sun rises to keep the cooler air in until the house heats up.
- Run ceiling fans counter-clockwise during hot months. While standing directly under a ceiling fan, you should feel a cool breeze. Not sure how to switch the fan's direction? With the fan off, use a step stool to reach the motor housing. You'll see a direction switch on the side; flip it to the opposite direction. Step down and turn the fan back on. It's that easy!
- Check on family, friends and neighbors, especially the elderly, who may not have air conditioning.
- Try to work out or do yard work before sunrise or after sunset, or postpone outdoor activities until after the heat advisory ends.
- Make sure your pet has water and shade; better yet, bring him indoors. If you see an animal tied up without shade and water, call 911 and report it. Never leave a pet or child in a vehicle.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises doing everything you can to keep our body temperature cool, which means stay out of the sun and try to find an air-conditioned shelter. You also should drink more water than usual because your body loses fluids through sweat, which can cause dehydration, as well as other heat illnesses.
How do you know if you have gotten too hot?
- Heat cramps – Symptoms include spasms in the legs and abdomen, as well as heavy sweating. Get the person to a cool spot and give sips of cool water
- Heat exhaustion – Persons experiencing heavy sweating even when the skin is cool, as well as fainting, dizziness, nausea, vomiting or headaches could be experiencing heat exhaustion. Again, get the individual to a cool place and give sips of water. If the person is vomiting, seek medical help.
- Heat stroke – When the body temperature is very high, the skin is dry and hot, and breathing shallow and rapid, this is a medical emergency and requires a trip to the hospital. During transport, try to cool the person by using cool compresses to reduce their temperature.