This past winter, multiple states in the U.S. were hit by extreme cold storms and were simultaneously experiencing power outages due to the higher-than-ever demand on the power grids. Hundreds of thousands of people were without power for days and were struggling to stay warm during the storm without the ability to turn on their heaters and other appliances. Now that summer is approaching, heat waves are likely in our near future. While it’s a good idea to reduce the risk of your home losing power with good sustainability and energy conservation practices, regional power outages can still be unavoidable. With that in mind, we wanted to share these tips on how to prepare for the possibility of a power outage during a heat wave.
Preparing for a heat wave:
1. Check and update your home insulation. Home insulation is often overlooked, but it’s a good practice to regularly check your home and make simple adjustments. For example, adding insulation on the floor of your attic will prevent the heat from entering the house, and installing blackout shades over the windows will keep the sun from coming in. Having a well insulated home will make it easier to keep the cool air inside and the heat out.
2. Purchase non-electric items for backup. These non-electric items are good to have around the house in case the power goes out and you need to cool off or keep food cold:
- Battery-powered fan
- Water-misting spray bottles
- Ice chest for food and water
- Solar-powered battery for charging small electronics
3. Create some outdoor shade. If you have a yard, you can turn it into the perfect cool-down space with just a few additions. Put up some shade structures such as sun sails, canopies, awnings and umbrellas. When you have no air conditioning, sometimes it’s cooler in the shade outside than it is inside your home. If you have a lot of outdoor space, you can even look into getting an above-ground pool – because why not have some fun instead of being sweaty and miserable?
Getting through the heat wave without electricity:
1. Block out the heat. Keep blinds/curtains closed to stop the sun from coming in through glass windows and heating up the room. Try not to take a hot shower, and if you do, make it as early as possible. The hot steam will fill up the bathroom and make it harder to keep cool. Roll up your area rugs – they trap the heat on the floor, plus wood and tile flooring tend to be naturally cool.
2. Let the breeze in. If it’s breezy outside, open doors and windows that are on opposite sides of the room to create a nice natural cross-breeze. Also keep bedroom and other interior doors open to allow airflow throughout the house.
3. Cool down with water. Take a cold shower, take a dip in the pool if you have access to one, or use a spray bottle to mist yourself throughout the day. You can also soak a towel or bandana in cold water and wrap it around your head or body. Make sure to stay hydrated too and drink lots of water.
4. Sleep outside or in a cooler room. If your bedroom isn’t on the first floor or if it tends to trap the heat, sleep in a different room. Typically, the coolest rooms in a house are rooms on the first floor, with higher ceilings, and with wood or tile floors. If you want to have some fun with it, pitch a tent in your yard and sleep under the stars with the night-breeze cooling you down.
5. Don’t cook inside. Even if you have a gas stove or camping stove that works without electricity, don’t use it in the house. The flame will heat up the room. Use your camping stove outside to cook food or use an outdoor grill if you have one.
Follow these tips and get prepared before the summer heat waves hit, and remember there are plenty of ways to have fun in the heat and make it more bearable!