Welcome to the sizzling dog days of Florida summer! Smile Sarasota is all about health – yours, your pets and that of our fragile environment. Here are some easy tips to both stay cool and save on electric bills!
- Use Fans: Moving air accelerates sweat evaporation. A fan on a low setting that can keep a light breeze blowing across your room can work wonders. Make sure your ceiling fans are spinning in the right direction to move air around the room. Most fans are reversible: One direction pushes air down, creating a nice summer breeze; the other direction sucks air up, helping you distribute heat in winter. There’s normally a switch on the motor to change the fan’s direction. Is your fan turning in the right direction for summer. Stand beneath the running fan, and if you feel a cooling breeze, it’s turning correctly. If not, change directions, usually by flicking a switch on the fan’s base. Typically, it’s counterclockwise or left for summer and clockwise for winter, but the best method is to follow the steps above. Note: Fans stop being effective when the heat index—the “feels like” temperature—reaches 99°F.
- Use cooler light bulbs: An incandescent bulb is a “little heater,” radiating 90% of its energy as heat, says Maria Tikoff Vargas, brand manager for the Energy Star program at the EPA. “Since most homes have 30 to 35 light fixtures, your cooling system expends a lot of energy counteracting their effects,” she says. Replace them with Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent bulbs, which emit 75% less heat. Also, realize that dishwashers, TVs, computers, and other appliances generate heat, says Vargas, so whenever possible, limit their use, and switch electronics like computers to sleep mode.
- Turn on the tap! Speaking of water, it almost goes without saying to drink plenty of it. Hydration helps your body move blood to the surface more efficiently, and it allows you to sweat
- Shield your windows. About 40% of your home’s heat comes in through windows, especially those facing east and west. To block it, curtains, shades, and blinds should closely fit windows and be a light, reflective color, While you could install Energy Star windows with a low-E coating, which deflects heat, an easier move is to buy a clear, heat-control window film from a home-improvement store and apply it to your standard windows.
And what about your pets?
Now is the time to also be concerned about keeping our PETS cool in this heat.
Here are some tips from the Humane Society on how to keep Fluffy cool:
- Watch the humidity-“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”
- Limit exercise on hot days-Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating
- Provide ample shade and water-Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
- Watch for signs of heatstroke-Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke: Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.