Today It's Cool to Be Indoors
Posted August 17, 1997
RALEIGH — When it's already 81 degrees when you walk out to retrieve the paper at 6 a.m., and you know the the mercury is headed for 96, heading to work in an air-conditioned spot this Monday seems like a great idea to lots of people.
Our current run of oppressively hot, humid weather has made cool couch potatoes of us all. It's simply not the wisest time for strenuous outdoor activities. The best thing to do is stay indoors, with air conditioning or fans going.
Do check on elderly neighbors or relatives. Sometimes they are unaware of how very hot their homes are, and it's wise to see that they are all right.
Children and pets should not be left in cars even when days are cooler than today, but today certainly they should be left home if you have any errands to run. Be sure to check on outdoor pets -- their water dish may need to be filled, and they need a place in the shade if you are unwilling or unable to bring them indoors. If you walk your dog, try to do so on grass or dirt -- asphalt roadways can get so hot it can burn your dog's paws.
To reduce the heat coming into your home, close the draperies or blinds on the sunny side of the house. Run your ceiling fans, if you have them. If your car is parked in the sun, you might want to lower the windows some for cross-ventilation. Windshields exposed to searing sun have been known to pop.
If the children have to vent some energy after sitting in classrooms today, let them play in the garage, carport or basement. Better still, accompany them to the mall or to a library. They get to walk around and see something different, but they are in air conditioning.
When temperatures are high, traffic accidents can be dangerous whether your car is directly involved or not. A serious wreck in Durham last week involved 10 vehicles and traffic was blocked in both directions of the interstate for hours -- and temperatures were in the high 90s. Motorists would be wise to toss a plastic bottle of water into the car, even when they drive around town. You never know when a severe accident or a breakdown will ground you for an hour or two. Water and a wide-brimmed hat can help you get through the experience in good shape.
Be sure to drink plenty of water. Coffee and caffeine sodas don't count; they encourage your body to lose more water -- and the goal in this heat is to retain as much water as possible.
If you do have to be outdoors for any length of time, apply sunscreen and wear a hat.
We often say that come winter, we'll remember the hot days of summer and wish they were back. But when the heat is this high, no one really wants a repeat performance. We just need to keep a cool head -- literally -- and get through it.