As summer temperatures rise, so too does the potential for power outages caused by extreme weather and power grids that can’t keep pace with demand. In its assessment of the U.S. power grid, The North American Electric Reliability Corporation reported as much as two-thirds of North America could be dealing with blackouts due to energy shortfalls over the next several months as summer heat spikes demand for electricity.
High temps and no power are a dangerous tandem. While most power outages are short-lived, those caused by storm damage can take longer to repair. It’s helpful to have a game plan for keeping everyone in your household cool, safe, and comfortable until power is restored.
Here are a few ways to stay cool during power outages, especially during hot weather:
1. Use Battery-Operated Fans:
Battery-operated fans are a great way to create some airflow in your living space. Place them strategically to circulate air effectively. They are portable and require fewer resources than larger cooling systems.
**Bonus Tip: If you’re really overheated and have access to a cooler or ice, place a bowl of ice in front of the fan to create a DIY air conditioner. The air blowing over the ice will cool down and provide a refreshing breeze.
2. Open or Close Shades & Windows:
If the power goes out during the daytime, first make sure all your shades are drawn to block out the sun and help insulate your home from getting any warmer. If the sun has set and it’s cooler outside than in, open your home up to cool it off.
Do this by opening windows on opposite sides of your home to allow cross-ventilation. This will enable cooler air to flow through and push hot air out, helping to maintain a more comfortable indoor environment.
3. Hang Out Where It’s Cool:
Staying on the coolest, lowest level of your home also helps. For most, this will be your basement.
4. Stay Hydrated:
Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and maintain a comfortable body temperature. Avoid eating heavy meals and drinking beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol as they can dehydrate you further. You can also enjoy cold beverages or popsicles to cool down. Take a tip from the kids and cool off under the hose.
5. Seek Shade:
If it’s safe to do so, spend time in shaded areas outside or create a makeshift shaded spot indoors using curtains or blankets. Direct sunlight can significantly increase the indoor temperature, so staying in the shade can help you keep cooler.
6. Wet Cloth/Cooling Towel:
Dampen a cloth or cooling towel with cold water and place it on your forehead, neck, and wrists. As the water evaporates, it will help to cool down your body temperature. You can also try a trick that some people still use in the south: Wet a sheet and hang it in your doorway. The evaporation can turn a warm breeze into a mister.
7. Keep Refrigerator & Freezer Doors Closed:
As tempting as a cold blast of air may be, the goal is to open refrigerator and freezer doors as little as possible. And don’t use any appliance (like a gas stove or cooktop) that generates heat. Grill or use a camping stove outside where the heat can dissipate.
8. Invest in a Generator:
If power outages are a frequent occurrence, consider investing in a generator—one that connects to essential appliances or a whole-home generator that allows you to run most if not all of your electrical circuits. If sized correctly, you may still be able to run air conditioning. Consider adding a soft starter to your HVAC system to make it easier to power up while running on a generator.
Remember to stay safe during power outages, especially during extreme weather conditions. If the heat becomes unbearable, consider seeking shelter in a community center or with friends or family who have power. Always prioritize your well-being and take necessary precautions.