Cooling shelters, safety and energy tips to combat dangerous summer heat

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — With near record-breaking temperatures affecting Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, many people are looking for ways to protect themselves, their families, and to beat the heat.

Our News 2 Weather Authority team is forecasting high temperatures reaching the upper 90s with heat indices into the triple digits through at least Sunday.

Cooling Centers/Shelters

The Tennessee Department of Health provides a map of locations you can go to that are air conditioned to protect yourself from extreme heat if you are unable to do so.

The map is searchable and printable. It breaks down cooling centers into categories like malls & shopping centers, public libraries, city halls, community centers, local health departments, YMCA locations, senior centers, and stores across all 95 counties in the state.

In Davidson County, the Nashville Office of Emergency Management has not activated additional cooling centers, as their policy states they do not activate them “until the heat index reaches 110 degrees for a prolonged period,” however the plan to open them can be activated for public safety “during extraordinary circumstances like several heat related illness calls.”

In Kentucky, you will need to contact your local health department to find out the nearest cooling center locations nearest you. Click here for a list of health departments and their contact information.

Energy Efficiency Tips

The rise in temperatures will cause a rise in energy bills, especially if you are running your air conditioner constantly to keep cool. Just because the temperature rises, doesn’t mean your electric bill should.

Air conditioner manufacturer Trane offers these tips to keep yourself and your home cool and keep your energy bills low, especially on extremely hot days:

  • Use stand, box, or ceiling fans to reduce energy costs and cool your home. This will allow you to raise the thermostat by 4 degrees without reducing your comfort. Turn fans off when you’re not in the room, as they are only intended to cool you and not the room.
  • Set your thermostat as close to 78 degrees as you can during the summer. The U.S. Department of Energy says setting your thermostat at 78 degrees can save you at most 10% on energy costs. Every degree above 72 degrees saves up to 3% on cooling expenses. Programmable thermostats and wireless remote thermostats will allow you to set your home to a warmer setting when you aren’t home and automatically start cooling it before you come home.
  • Consider upgrading your air conditioner or other electrical appliances in your home to more energy efficient ones.
  • Keep blinds and curtains closed and add weather stripping to doors and windows.
  • Unplug all electronics when they aren’t in use.
  • Go out to eat. Using your kitchen appliances can raise the temperature by 10 degrees.

For more energy saving tips, click here.

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Heat Safety Tips

Heat-related illnesses and injuries are common not just among children and the elderly, it can happen to anyone. When temperatures outside start pushing 90 degrees or higher, you need to protect yourself.

Protect Children

Nashville OEM offers these tips to protect children from the dangerous heat:

  • Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute or if the car is running. Keep your car locked when you are not in it, so kids don’t gain access.
  • Create reminders by putting something in the back seat next to your child, such as a briefcase, purse, cell phone, or even your left shoe so you don’t forget about them.
  • Set a calendar reminder on your phone to make sure you dropped off your child at daycare and develop a plan to be alerted if your child is late or a no-show.
  • If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
  • Keep children hydrated with plenty of fluids and limit time spent outdoors.

Protect Elderly

Check on elderly neighbors and loved ones to make sure they are okay in the extreme heat. According to the CDC, people ages 65 and older do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature.

Nashville OEM offers these tips to protect the elderly from extreme heat:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.
  • Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in the area if you do not have air conditioning
  • Do not rely on a fan if it is your main cooling source
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink
  • Talk to your doctor about the risks of certain medications or limits on fluids during extreme heat.
  • Keep your stove or oven turned off.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Cool down by taking cool showers or baths.
  • Get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activities.

Protect Pets

Keep your pets protected from the extreme heat by keeping them hydrated and limiting their time outdoors or providing ample water and shade.

Be careful not to over-exercise your pet.

A pet is overheated if they are excessively panting or having difficulty breathing, their heart rate and respiratory rate is increase, they’re drooling, they have mild weakness, stupor, or they collapse. Symptoms of heat illness in a pet includes seizures, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and elevated body temperature over 104 degrees.

Special breeds such as pugs and Persian cats with flat faces are more susceptible to heat stroke.

NEVER leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle and never let a dog linger on hot asphalt. Keep walks to a minimum.

Protect those with poor health

Anyone who is overweight or obese, has heart or lung disease, or any other type of illness should also limit their time outdoors and stay in cool air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. Those with health conditions should also stay hydrated as much as possible to avoid making their condition worse.

Protect from heat-related injuries

Sunburns

Sunburns are the most common type of heat-related injury. Symptoms include redness, pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, and headaches. In order to treat a sunburn, you need to take a shower with soap to remove oils that may block pores and prevent the body from cooling naturally. If blisters occur; apply dry, sterile dressings and get medical attention.

Aloe vera gels and lotions, many after sun products, can also help.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are typically caused when you are dehydrated. Symptoms include painful spasms in your leg and abdominal muscles, and heavy sweating.

To relieve heat cramps, apply firm pressure to cramping muscles and/or gently massage to relieve the spasm. Take sips of water, but if nausea occurs, discontinue.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a result of your body overheating. On a scale with heat cramps being mild and heat stroke being severe, heat exhaustion is more moderate. It occurs when you’re exposed to heat for a longer period of time, and may develop suddenly or overtime. It is usually accompanied by dehydration.

Symptoms include heavy sweating; weakness; and skin that is cold, pale, and clammy. It’s possible that your body temperature is normal despite the symptoms. Symptoms also include rapid pulse, fainting, and vomiting.

To treat heat exhaustion, lie down in a cool place and loosen your clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths to your face and body. Use a fan directly on yourself or turn on the air conditioning.

Take sips of water, but if nausea occurs, discontinue. If vomiting occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat Stroke (Sun Stroke)

Heat stroke is on the severe end of the scale. Symptoms include a high body temperature of 106 degrees or higher with hot, dry skin. You’re likely to experience a rapid pulse and possible unconsciousness. You’ll likely also not sweat.

In case of heat stroke, call 911 and/or get to a hospital immediately. Delay can be deadly.

You should to a cooler environment, and get into a cool bath to reduce body temperature. Remove clothing carefully, and use fans and/or air conditioners to cool off. DO NOT DRINK ANYTHING.

Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.

Find more Top Stories from wkrn.com

Additional Resources

The Metro Nashville Action Commission has programs available to help with energy assistance. Click here for more information.

If you work outside in the heat, OSHA has vital safety information to keep you protected while at work. Click here to download.

For more summer weather safety tips, click here.

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