Monday, July 2, 2012

Notes and Tips

The past few days have certainly been challenging for many people, and may continue to be for many more days. The weather extremes have brought all sorts of trials, from devastating fires to scorching heat to storms and power outages for millions. We truly hope everyone comes through these troubles safely – and that it all ends very soon.

While sitting in a 7-hour power outage here the other night, and while bemoaning our lack of “comforts”, we began discussing how things must have been many years ago. Truthfully, we are all fairly spoiled these days. All the appliances, electronics and gadgets have become so commonplace that it’s hard to imagine life without them – and a few hours seem to be true deprivation. But when you think back a hundred years or more, our ancestors had no idea that all the things we find it so hard to live without would ever exist. They lived with fireplaces for heat, oil lamps and candles for light, and with no modern conveniences of any kind. And I’m sure even during times of extreme weather the work didn’t stop. I’m convinced they were a much hardier lot than we are!

Even as recently as the 1950s things were still what we’d call “primitive”. I can recall never having air conditioning in either our house or the car. And washing clothes using a wringer washer and/or washtub & washboard, then hanging them outside on a clothesline. That does give some indication as to my age, doesn’t it?

The internet, newspapers and television are full of information about surviving the terrible heat wave that’s blanketing several states, but I thought I’d put it here as well.

1) Wear light-colored, loose clothing. Avoid dark colors.

2) Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol and caffeine. Eat light foods – avoid heavy, spicy, hot foods. This is a perfect time for salads and fruit!

3) If there’s a breeze at all, a spot outside in the shade could be more comfortable than inside the house.

4) Know the signs of heat exhaustion/stroke: headaches, confusion, red and/or hot dry skin, dizziness, agitation, breathing problems, lack of sweating. Seek medical help for these symptoms.

Also, be sure to check often on the sick and elderly in your family and your neighborhood.

Pets suffer in the heat as well. Make sure they have plenty of water and a shady place to rest.

Many people are buying and using generators, and they are certainly helpful in keeping comfortable and preventing the loss of food in the refrigerator and freezer. However, there are a couple of very important rules for using them.

1) Be sure to never use them inside the house or garage.

2) Keep them several feet from the house.

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent cooling loss. Food in the refrigerator will stay cool up to 12 hours or so, and in the freezer a little longer – if left unopened. Use a thermometer in the refrigerator, and when the temperature of the food inside drops below 40 degrees, dispose of its contents – they will no longer be safe. Food poisoning on top of the extreme heat is something nobody would need.

I’ve been thinking we need a disaster preparedness kit but, like many other folks, just haven’t gotten around to it. Now would be the perfect time to make that shopping list and stock up. Be sure to check back here for Disaster Preparedness 101!

Have a great day and keep cool. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. And if you have a super trick or idea for keeping cool in the heat, please share with the rest of us!

Thanks for reading.

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