power outages

Keeping Cool With the Power Out

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With hundreds of thousands without power in Connecticut and many public spaces at limited capacity or closed due to the pandemic, finding a refuge from the summer heat has just become more difficult. But even without air conditioning or a fan, there are things you can do to keep yourself and your home cooler.

Keep your blinds/curtains/shades closed. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 76% of the sun that falls on standard double-pane windows becomes heat. Blocking that direct sunlight will help keep things cooler. While the exact amount of control will depend on the type of window covering you have, DOE said that studies show that a typical medium-colored curtain or drape with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by up to 33%. If you have shutters or outdoor awnings, using them to reduce direct sunlight coming through the windows can also reduce the heat.

Shut off unused rooms. As you work to create your cool space, close doors to areas that you are not using to encourage the flow of cool air through only the spaces that are in use.

Take advantage of the cooler air at night. Obviously, as the sun goes down so do the temperatures. Go outside and open windows to let the cooler air flow through while you can.

Stay hydrated, especially if you are doing any kind of physical work, like clearing tree branches in your yard. But even if you're just sitting inside, drinking plenty of water will help your body keep cooler and avoid the risk of heat-related illness. Don't wait until you feel thirsty - by then you're already somewhat dehydrated. The Connecticut Department of Public Health cautions against drinking alcohol or sugary drinks, which actually can cause you to lose more body fluids.

Give your body time to adjust. If you're used to hanging out in the AC, the sudden inability to escape the heat may be stressful to your body. DPH says you'll develop a greater tolerance for the heat if you let yourself adjust, keeping physical activity limited and working yourself up to harder work gradually. That means taking plenty of breaks if you're trying to clean up storm damage, and, as mentioned before, staying well hydrated.

Consider your clothing, especially when working outside. Lighter fabrics, like linen and cotton, in lighter colors are the best options. If you have to work in direct sunlight, consider a hat to protect your face from the worst of the sun's rays.

Take a cool shower or bath. DPH says this can be a better way to keep cool than using a fan, even if that option is available to you without power. If a whole body cool down isn't an option, health experts say using a cool, damp cloth on "pulse points" like your neck, wrists, elbows, or forehead can help your body cool down.

Cook outside. Even if your stove and oven are up and running with the power out, it's a good idea to avoid using them if possible. Try to fire up the grill or even try your hand at cooking over the campfire (only if safe to do so) to keep the heat out of your home.

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