Beating the Heat: Tips for Staying Cool and Safe in Summer



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Staying Cool in the Summertime

It’s summer, and it’s hot here in Texas. It’s getting hot wherever you are this summer. 

And that heat can be dangerous to those who work or exercise outdoors, to the youngest children, to the elderly, and to anyone unable to stay cool in their home. 

Sadly, it’s not unusual for older people to be found sick or dead in their homes during the summer without working fans or air conditioners. That should not happen.

Statistics from the Texas Dept. of State Health Services show that there were 263 deaths reported among Texas residents with exposure to excessive natural heat as the underlying cause of death from 2003 through 2008. 

Most of these deaths occurred in June, July, and August. Most of those dying from heat-related causes were older adults. Sixty-four of these 263 were people in the 75 to 99-year-old age group.

Staying in an air-conditioned area is the most effective way to combat the heat. If you do not have adequate air-conditioning in your home, you need to find a place with air conditioning and stay there during the hottest part of the day. 

Visit a shopping mall, public library, or a heat-relief sheltering area provided by a social service agency. Fans and air conditioners can be found at low prices or free at social service agencies and your local Area Agency on Aging.

You can also find help with your utility bills to afford to pay for that air conditioning. The Low Income Home Energy Program exists throughout the United States to help those who need help with utility payments. 

The Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) is a statewide utility assistance program in Texas. CEAP is meant to help low-income households immediately get the energy they need and teach people how to control their energy costs for years to come. 

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs runs the CEAP through different agencies that help all 254 counties in the state. To find help in your city, go to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website, and go to the Help for Texans page. You will find a section titled “Utility Bill Help” that will give you contact information for the appropriate agencies in your area.

Using common sense and being careful, you can avoid getting sick from the heat or stress, like a stroke or a heart attack. Keep your body hydrated with cool liquids, especially water, and avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.

Take a water bottle with you whenever you leave the house. Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing. Limit outdoor activities during the hottest times of the day. Listen to the weather report daily, so you know what to expect. 

Stay cool indoors, especially in the heat of the day, with air conditioners, not just fans alone. On a hot day, never leave anyone in a car, not a baby, a child, or an elderly or disabled person.

For more information about heat-related illnesses, including prevention and treatment tips, you can visit the CDC’s Extreme Heat Safety Web site. Read the publication, “Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety.”

If you need adequate cooling in your home, take your time seeking help to get an air conditioner today. It’s essential to your health!