Living Without Air Conditioning
Living without air conditioning was not uncommon when I was growing up. However, in today’s world having whole-house air conditioning is no longer considered a luxury. It has become a standard feature to most homes.
I remember nights when I just could not sleep. The air would not move, and the sweat rolled down my back. Here in West Virginia those nights are limited, so it almost made things more bearable. I can’t imagine going without air conditioning or a cooling resource in Florida or Texas.
Lately, the entire U.S. has been experiencing strong heat waves — with much longer duration than years ago. Yet there are many with no relief. They have no resources, no access to air conditioning and simply nowhere to go.
Extreme heat exposure is very dangerous for humans and animals alike. We have some very vulnerable people at risk, including those in low-income situations, including the elderly, disabled, those with medical conditions, and home bounders. People are sick and some are even dying.
Extended exposure to extreme heat shifts quickly into an emergency. Some homes and apartments reach 100 degrees or more at times.
There are people without central air, window air conditioning and fans. They may have difficulty getting to a cooling center. Air conditioners and fans cost money. It costs money to run them. Sometimes, there are no extra dollars in a budget for some to spare. There are those who fear they are being a bother, or those that think the heatwave will pass sooner than it will and are reluctant to reach out and ask for help.
Imagine the heat so warm that sweat is rolling off you for extended periods with the air standing still. The sun shines through windows, beating down on your living area, increasing the heat to the extreme. Imagine you have no curtains or extra insulation, things many assume everyone has, and cannot be properly protected, insulated, and shielded from the hot and cold temperatures.
There are families living this situation right now, every single day. What can we do to protect these people?
If you can open your home or pool to neighbors, family and friends who may be experiencing this very dilemma, that would be a generous offer. If not, the following are some things we can still do to help.
Although the body adapts to a certain level of heat, after time, many are at serious risk for a heat stroke and/or death. Our bodies release heat through sweat just like an animal. Subsequently, this also depletes electrolyte balances very quickly. If you are experiencing this or know someone who is, I offer these suggestions to cool down and assist someone in need of cooling down.
Take a cold shower. This will very quickly bring body temperatures down. Offer your hose or sprinkler to someone who may not have running water.
Try to rest. Less movement and less exertion help. Lower that heartrate.
Swim and wade. If you do not have access to a pool, see if there is a safe creek, pond, lake, or river nearby.
Sit on a porch, under a tree, anywhere you can find shade.
Try to keep the air moving. Ideally a fan is best, but even if you do not have a fan, open those windows. Keep the air flowing.
Electrolytes are important to keeping the brain and other organs functioning properly. Water and/or sports drinks should be consumed regularly and then some. If you know someone who does not have these things, please share. Purchase extra and hand out to your community members who either don’t have the drinks or are unable to get out and purchase them. Foods like watermelon are great to replenish the electrolyte imbalances as well. Did you know salty foods, like pretzels, nuts, and even potatoes, restore electrolyte balance too?
The heat so many love can be very scary to many others. Do what you can to help keep people comfortable. Recognize when someone needs some extra care. Although home air conditioning was once considered a luxury, it is much more common and standard today. Unfortunately, though, there are still so very many without the basics.
Let’s do what we can to protect the exposed people and pets in our communities.