Be Careful of Extreme Heat, the “Silent Killer”
Akron, OH August 2011 – The excessively hot temperatures we’ve been experiencing this summer has not only been uncomfortable and inconvenient, but also dangerous. Many people are unaware of how deadly heat can be. In contrast to the visible, destructive and violent nature of floods and tornadoes, heat is the “silent killer.” According to a CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) study, 8015 deaths were caused by exposure to extreme heat from 1979-2003. From 1999-2003 more people died from excessive heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, and earthquakes combined. The CDC reports an average of 350 people a year die due to the effects of heat.
It’s important to take precautions to avoid over exposure to these extreme temperatures. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) and local heating and cooling company, Blind & Sons, offer preventative measures on how to stay safe and cool during extreme heat.
Air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death, according to the CDC. During conditions of extreme heat, people should spend more time in air-conditioned homes or buildings such as shopping malls, public libraries, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelters in their area.
“If your air conditioning at home goes out make sure you have the name of a reputable heating and cooling service company that offers 24/7 emergency service,” says Bill Blind, of Blind & Sons. “Keep this information handy. Air conditioning rarely goes out at a convenient time and in this heat getting your system fixed promptly can be crucial.”
“Air conditioning systems have to work hard to keep up with the demand of these hot temps. Make sure you are checking and changing or cleaning your heating & cooling system air filter regularly. A dirty filter will restrict the air flow in your system and reduce home comfort,” states Blind.
“Another great tip for homeowners is to adjust their blinds, drapes or curtains seasonally. Direct sunlight can raise the temperature of a room by as much as 10-20 degrees,” states Blind. “You can keep direct sunlight out by closing your blinds, drapes or curtains on the east and west facing windows during the day. This helps keep the sun’s direct rays from entering your home and helps reduce the amount of effort your air conditioner puts forth to keep your home cool. In the evening, open your window treatments to allow the heat to escape back out through the windows of your home.”
The CDC says, “The best defense is prevention” and offers these great tips.
- Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
- Use fans, particularly ceiling fans, to help cool your home. Fans help move cool air and can also ease your air conditioner’s workload.
- Keep in mind, using electric fans may provide some comfort, however, when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
- Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. The elderly, infants, and anyone with a chronic illness, may dehydrate easily and be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Create a “neighborhood watch” to check on family, friends and neighbors that are elderly, “shut-in”, sick or disabled to make sure their air conditioning is keeping up with the heat. Watch these individuals for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need more frequent watching.
- Don’t forget that pets also need protection from dehydration and heat-related illnesses!
Finally, remember to use common sense and stay indoors, if at all possible, in an air conditioned place. Safety is the number one priority during these extreme hot summer days.
Blind & Sons, Inc.
Blind & Sons is a family-owned business dedicated to providing total home comfort for their Northeast Ohio neighbors. Based in Barberton, Ohio, they have been in business since opening their doors in 1937. They are a full service company offering heating, cooling, indoor air quality, plumbing and electrical products and services to the communities in Northeast Ohio. For more information, visit their website at www.blindandsons.com.