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  • Prepare for Winter...In the Summer

    Today marks the last day of July, which means winter is coming.

    Wait, what? But…don’t we still have August left? And what happened to September and October?

    Alright, you caught me. Those months are still on the calendar, and we can get really nice weather those months (fall weather is amazing, after all). But the truth is, winter is coming, and while it may still be a few months off, it is wise to start preparing for it now.

    Prepare for Winter...before everyone takes all the thingsAs is the case with most severe weather, we sometimes wait until the storm is looming ominously before us before we run to the store and grab some necessities. While this works sometimes, other times it can leave us without the essentials we need. This is one reason why it is best to be prepared well in advance. And, some things are just easier to prepare for while the weather is still nice. If you wait until it’s cold and snowy, some things may be harder to accomplish (not to mention that’s when everyone else starts getting ready, too, so prices may go up and contractor availability may be hard to find).

    Without further ado, here are some ways to prepare for winter…in the summer.


    Winterize Your Home

    Winterizing your homePrepare for Winter...Bundle Up Your Home is one of the best things you can do to prepare for winter in the summer. Make sure you have sufficient insulation in your home, and most especially in the attic. Hot air rises (at least that’s what my science teachers always said), so if your attic is poorly insulated, that hot air will escape through there.

    Caulking the drafty areas around windows and doors will also keep that warm, inside air from escaping (and thus saving you all kinds of money). Weather stripping is another good idea for the gaps in doors and windows, too.

    Other things you can do to prepare for winter is cleaning out your furnace, replace air filters, and have that chimney cleaned out.


    Prepare Your Car

    Prepare for WInter...Car PrepThe first really cold or snowy day of winter usually has me searching for my ice scraper. It’s usually hidden somewhere that I can’t remember since I haven’t had to use it all spring, summer, or fall. Before the cold temperatures come, gather together the essentials that you’ll need in one location, so when the frost does come you can easily find it again.

    Summertime is also a good time to stock up on needed supplies and tools for your car, and even a car emergency kit (more on that in a second). Consider replenishing and updating your first aid or emergency kit. Get a shovel for your trunk (the 4-in-1 Mini Folding Shovel even fits in your glove compartment).


    Build Your Emergency Kit

    Emergency kits are lifesavers. There are certain things you should have in your winter emergency kits, including items that provide warmth, alternate power, and of course, water and food. Build a 72-hour kit before the storm comes, because once it does, you may not be able to get out. Let me illustrate that with an almost-personal example.

    Prepare for Winter before the stormA number of years ago before we were married, my wife was trapped in her home with her family during a huge ice storm. They couldn’t leave for days because of the slick roads. The power was down and heat was at a premium. Fortunately, they already had what they needed. If they had waited…I can’t imagine how unpleasant that experience would have been. Instead, when she talks about it, she talks as if it were all some grand adventure. Which I’m sure it was, since they were prepared.

    For your vehicle, consider keeping sand (for traction), a shovel, extra blankets, hats, gloves, and other warm clothing, and some emergency food and water rations. Bright colored flags or signs will also help people see you should you get stuck or stranded in a blizzard.

    For your home, the same things should be kept, as well as rock salt for melting ice on walkways. You will most likely be able to have more supplies on hand, since your home is a bit bigger than your car’s trunk, so use it! Plan ahead, and when the storms come, you’ll be ready and you’ll also be able to think of it as a grand adventure rather than a stressful, how-will-we-manage type experience.


    While there are plenty of other things you can do to prepare for winter, it really depends upon you, your home and vehicle, and your individual needs. The important thing for you to remember is to prepare for winter. Sure, it’s still super hot outside, but that’s the point of preparing. If you put it off, you may have an unpleasant first storm. If not…well, the snowmen are waiting to be built!


    How do you prepare for winter in the summer?

  • 7 Ways to Beat the Heat Without Electricity

    Beat the Heat - Anomalies NOAA

    It’s hot. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last year and last month were the warmest in 135 years. The U.S. had its second-warmest June.

    In extreme temperatures, power companies sometimes struggle to meet demand, resulting in outages and blackouts. About 55 million people in the northeastern U.S. and Canada lost power on August 14, 2003 after a sagging high voltage line hit a tree. Some places didn’t get power back for two days.

    High temperatures cause about 175 deaths in the United States every year. A 1980 heat wave killed more than 1,250 people. Of all natural disasters, only winter’s cold is more deadly.

    “In the U.S., extreme heat may have greater impact on human health, especially among the elderly, than any other type of severe weather,” said NOAA’s “Heat Wave: A Major Summer Killer.”

    Here are seven tips that will help you beat the heat and stay cool should you find yourself without power.


    Stay in the coolest part of the house or in the shade

    Beat the Heat - ShadeWhen it got really hot outside and her power went off, Barbara Benson used to stay in her basement.

    “You really had to,” she said.

    If you don’t have a basement, the north side of a larger building will be cooler than the south side, according to FEMA’s Ready.gov/heat. Uncarpeted rooms will be cooler. Keep an eye on the temperature inside. It can become warmer than outside.


    Use the windows

    FEMA suggests covering windows during the day. Cardboard covered by aluminum foil or a reflective blanket works as an inexpensive sunlight reflector. We even have reflective blankets that would also do the job nicely.

    If there’s a breeze during the day, open windows across from each other and put a wet towel in front of the windward side window, suggests Angela Paskett, who writes an emergency preparedness blog. Also open them at night so the draft can cool the house.


    Dress cool

    If you’re in the sun, wear a hat. Sunburns can severely diminish the body’s ability to get rid of heat. Your clothes should cover as much skin as possible and be loose and light colored. Natural fabrics like cotton breathe better than synthetic ones like polyester.


    Drink lots, Eat Cool, and Cook Outside

    Beat the Heat - Fruit Fruit is a great way to beat the heat

    If you don’t have to cook, don’t. Well-balanced, light meals with lots of fruit and vegetables are easier to digest, which produces less body heat and decreases water loss, according to NOAA. If you cook, do so outside.

    Drink water even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and lots of sugar. Those can cause greater thirst.


    Use water

    To keep her grandchildren cool, Benson built a “Kid Wash,” a PVC pipe contraption with holes punched in overhead pipes. Water flows into the pipes from a hose and drips out like a shower.

    “(My grandkids) love it,” she said.

    Paskett’s blog recommends four ways to use water to stay cool:

    Get in a tub or pool.

    Put a wet towel anywhere you check a pulse.

    Wear wet clothes.

    Use a water-filled spray bottle.


    Check on vulnerable family and friends

    Older people, young children, and people with chronic illness or obesity are at higher risk for heat stroke and death, according to FEMA.

    “Heat cramps in a 17-year-old may be heat exhaustion in someone (age) 40 and heat stroke in a person over 60,” according to NOAA.

    Ready.gov suggests getting to know neighbors to be aware of those who live alone and might be at risk.


    Recognize heat-related illness

    Humans get rid of heat by sweating and sweat evaporation, pumping blood closer to the skin and panting. When the body can’t get rid of enough heat, or has a chemical imbalance from sweating too much, it goes into heat exhaustion.

    WebMD lists signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion: confusion, dizziness and fainting, dark-colored urine, headache, cramps, nausea, pale skin, profuse sweating, and rapid heartbeat.

    To treat, get the patient out of the heat, give them plenty of fluid and try cooling with water and fans. If symptoms haven’t improved in 15 minutes, emergency medical help may be necessary because heat exhaustion can become heat stroke.

    Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature control breaks down. Core body temperature rises above 105 degrees. Other symptoms include fainting, nausea, seizures and impaired mental state. Heat stroke can kill, so if you feel you’re at risk, call 911 immediately and try cooling strategies like wetting the patient or applying ice packs.


    No matter what happens this summer, make sure you find ways to stay cool and well hydrated.


    - Melissa


    How do you beat the heat? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Fun in the Sun: Keeping Summer Safe

    Fun in the Sun: Keeping Summer Safe

    This is an actual photo of my two-year-old’s legs after only one month of summer. I’m finding that with kids, “summer legs” has almost nothing to do with the shape or shade of my own appendages, and lots more to do with the bruises, bumps, and bug bites that decorate the little legs at our house as soon as the weather’s warm enough to wear shorts.

    We know that summertime holds its own particular hazards: incidents of drowning spike in the summer, and almost nobody loses a finger to fireworks in March. But even the little things—like a nasty sunburn from a fun day on the beach, or getting mosquito bites on your favorite hike—can add up to a seriously unpleasant season, both for you and your little people’s legs.

    Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Actually, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC have you covered, and we’re right there with them! Each organization releases an annual tip list to help families focus on summer safety. Both are organized by category (bugs, fireworks, water, heat, and sun), and the AAP’s list even includes things that might not first jump to mind when we think of summer, like bicycle, skateboard, ATV, and lawnmower safety.

    You can find their respective lists at the links below.

    While a whole lot of this is common sense, a few of these tips were news to me. Like the fact that sparklers can reach past 1,000 degrees F bright or floral prints can attract bees and wasps, and children under 12 shouldn’t operate walk-behind mowers (there goes my four-year-old’s summer job!).

    I like lists like these that give me quick, handy reminders. But if I need more in-depth information on summer-specific solutions, I go to articles, like these

    Whatever your summer plans, please build in some safety prep! We want those little legs in working order come fall!

    What do you do to stay safe in the summer?


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