We call Texas home – but man, sometimes we second guess our decision to reside here when the heat index is hovering around 115°. If you’ve lived here for awhile you may be rolling your eyes right about now – but we’re going to review some of the terminology surrounding the Texas heat and some tips for staying cool on the hottest days.
First, let’s review some terms. Do you know the true definitions of: heat wave, heat index and extreme heat?
Heat wave: A heat wave is simply defined as a prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity. I guess you could have guessed on that one. Did you know that the National Weather Service has systems in place to alert the general public of a heat wave.
Extreme Heat: Extreme heat is classified by temperatures that consistently remain 10° over the national average high temperature.
Heat index: The heat index is essentially how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. The heat index can fluctuate dramatically, for example 105° could feel like 115°.
- Let’s get this one out of the way. Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water is always best.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. While the temporary effects are nice – they both are known to dehydrate you.
- Make sure your air conditioner is installed properly – without any gaps and insulate if necessary.
- On the same note, check air conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
- While they look like crap – try installing temporary window reflectors, for use between your windows and drapes. An aluminum foil-covered piece of cardboard reflects the suns rays back outside.
- Keep your storm windows up all year.
- Make sure your doors and window sills have the weather stripping properly installed.
- Awnings can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.
- Avoid strenuous activity during the warmest parts of the day – work in the coolest parts of the day – between 4-7 a.m.
- Get your errands and running around done in the morning
- Use a buddy system if you’re forced to work in extreme heat. Take frequent breaks and constantly drink water.
- If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor and out of the sun.
- NEVER leave pets or (god forbid) children in the car alone. Even with rolled/cracked windows, temperatures inside a vehicle climb exponentially higher than the outdoor temp. In fact, even on mild days – an outdoor reading of 70° can put the car at 95° after 15-20 minutes.
- Check in on family and friends that may not have air conditioning and spend the bulk of their time alone.
- Keep a spray bottle handy – a quick spritz on the back or your, or your kid’s, neck can make all the difference – especially if you’re in a hot car before the air conditioning cools the car down.
- Keep a cooler around. It’s better on your budget and your gas tank if you’re not stopping for drinks during every outing. Stock a cooler and you’ll be surprised how a ice cold bottle of water can really take the edge off.
- It’s a good idea to wear light-weight, loose fitting, light colored clothing. Also, bring a hat – the wider the brim the better.
- We don’t have to remind you about sunscreen do we?
Some of the best advice we can give is to stay inside in the afternoons during a heat wave.
It’s Texas and summer is in full swing. What did you expect?