At the end of this week, meteorologists are predicting that we are heading for a week’s long heatwave, so now is the time to read up on how to best prepare you, your home, your pets and your car.
For those of us along the shore, we will see cooler temperatures (but still hot and humid), but an increase in traffic and population as those that live inland seek the relief of our beaches. So we will need to be patient and plan accordingly.
Stay inside during the hottest part of the day, generally 12p to 4p.
Wear a hat, light-colored and lightweight clothing.
Stay in the shade as often as possible, or use an umbrella when outside.
Always have water with you and drink plenty of it. Humans cool by sweating and increased heat will lead to increased sweating and a very real possibility of becoming dehydrated, quickly.
Keep your blinds/drapes closed during the day to keep the sun out of your home/office.
Open the windows during the coolest times of the day (night/early morning) to flush out the hot air.
Check your HVAC air filters, etc. NOW and replace if needed. Clean out the filters on your air conditioners and vacuum those fans!
Be prepared for brown-outs or power outages as the increased use of airconditioning can severely tax local power grids. Make sure your emergency kits are ready.
If you do not have air conditioning at home, plan to visit your local libraries, malls, movie theaters, etc.
Be sure to check on your neighbors, especially if they are elderly or in ill health.
Keep fresh water available for your pets and make sure that they are not left outside with no shelter during the day. Our cats will be spending a lot of time in the relative cool of our basement!
Prepare meals in advance or stock up on supplies so you can grill, thus avoiding the heat of cooking indoors.
If you must work outdoors, make sure you are not alone, take frequent breaks, drink more water than you think you need and take your time.
NEVER LEAVE PETS OR CHILDREN IN AN ENCLOSED CAR!
Heatwaves may drive you to the beach or pool, please remember to load up on sunscreen!
Learn to recognize and treat heat-related emergencies. The Red Cross has an excellent webpage that defines and gives treatment options for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Give your car a little check up too. Make sure that all the fluids are at appropriate levels, especially the anti-freeze. When we run our a/c in our cars, our engines burn hotter and this can lead to overheating if the antifreeze is low. Also, give the belts and hoses a look and replace any that are cracked or blistering. Check your tires too as underinflated tires increase your chances of a blow-out due to the heat of the roads. If you find yourself stuck in traffic and your temperature gauge climbs over the halfway mark, experts recommend pulling over and turning off the engine to allow it too cool before hitting the road again.
If you will be seeking the relief of our shores, remember that thousands will have the same idea as you and the earlier you begin your trek, the less likely you will be stuck in traffic and run the risk that the parking lots fill up!
Remember that the heatwave will not last forever, it will just seem like an eternity when we are in the midst of the suffering. Be safe, stay hydrated and look out for your friends and neighbors.
The mild weather of November and now December not withstanding, winter will arrive in our neck of the woods and it’s important to remember and review safe winter driving tips. So let’s take a look at some helpful safety reminders before you go over the bridge and through the woods to grandma’s house for the holidays.
Have a list. Santa isn’t the only one that needs a list this time of year, you should have a pre-travel checklist to ensure a safe drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a comprehensive list at on their website. Grab a copy and use it to prepare for long trips and seasonal car check ups.
Know before you go! The weather in New England can change quickly, so it’s important that you keep an eye on the weather forecast when planning your adventures and make sure your car is properly equipped with emergency supplies.
Find a LOCAL radio station. With so many drivers using satellite radio, it’s important to have a few LOCAL radio stations that will allow you to check on upcoming weather as you make your way on down the road.
Turn off cruise control! On long, fair weather trips I LOVE cruise control, but it should never be used for rainy, snowy or icy conditions. Cruise control works by sending constant power to maintain a set speed. In situations where you may hydroplane or start to slip, the instinct to hit the brakes to disengage the cruise control may make the skid/slip worse. When you encounter slippery conditions the first rule is simply let off the gas…and that seemingly small amount of time it takes to turn off cruise control is often enough to make the issue worse.
Keep your car’s lights on when driving in rainy/wintry conditions. While you may not need them to see, they provide visibility to other drivers. And it’s the law in most states.
Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. This may seem extreme if you are taking a long trip; but if you are traveling during winter it’s important to keep ample gas in case you end up stranded. Not only can having enough gas to turn on the vehicle in intervals to keep the occupants warm; the stops also allow you get out of the vehicle to stretch and refocus your mind, which helps fight road fatigue.
Increase your following distance. The standard follow distance is recommended to be 3 to 4 seconds between your front bumper and the vehicle in front of you. You can establish this distance by choosing a landmark and time how long it takes you to get to it AFTER the vehicle in front of you passes it. But when road conditions are slippery or visibility is compromised you will want to increase that distance significantly, upwards of 8 seconds.
Give those big rigs plenty of space. When you are passing an 18 wheeler, do not cut back in front of them after completing your pass. The time is take for them to stop or slow down is so much greater than a regular passenger vehicle. And in slippery conditions this could result in the tractor trailer “jack knifing” and cause serious issues for everyone on the road.
Keep an eye on the temperature. The dreaded black ice will form on damp/wet roads when the temperature reaches 32F and happens quickly, so you may be unpleasantly surprised. If you car does not have an outside temperature gauge, you can purchase one for about $10 at an auto store or truck stop!
Take your time. Plan your trip to allow for plenty of travel time to your destination and back home.
Well, Mother Nature has done it again and pulled a very fast 180º weather change and we suddenly find ourselves digging out our hats, scarves and mittens…and contemplating turning on the heat at home! We are resisting turning on the heat until Thanksgiving, but we may have to cave earlier or activate a space heater! If you are trying to conserve your heating and using space heaters, let’s look at some very important do’s and don’ts! After all, heating equipment is responsible for over 65,000 house fires each year…let’s reduce those numbers by being as safe as possible.
Always read the manufacturer’s instruction manual before operating your space heater. This will tell you the best-operating conditions for your particular heater and list warnings. If you do not have the manual, you can usually find a digital copy by searching online
Before plugging the heater in, give it an inspection. Look for any cracks or breaks in the housing; check the cord for any fraying or exposed wires. If any of these exist…throw away the heater!
Plug your space heater DIRECTLY into a wall socket! Do NOT plug a space heater into a power strip or extension cord. The power required for the heater is too much for these devices can lead to overheating/fire. It is also recommended that the space heater be the only item plugged into the socket.
Never leave the heater unattended. Turn off and unplug the heater when you leave the room it’s being used in or are going to bed. Do not set up the heater in an area that people or pets will be liable to knock into it or trip over the cord.
Make sure that you are placing the heater on a level and stable surface (so that rickety coffee table you’ve had since college is not recommended). Do not place on other furniture, tables, chairs or carpet. What? No carpet? If you are placing your heater in a room with carpet, place it on a stable, non-flammable item such as a tile. This allows for air flow under the heater making it less likely to overheat and start a fire.
Make sure that your heater is placed at least three (3) feet away from anything that can catch fire. This includes papers, clothing, drapes/curtains and rugs.
Space heaters should never be used to warm your bed; dry clothing or other fabrics; cook or heat up food or to unfreeze pipes.
Make sure that you have ample smoke detectors in your home. You should have one on each floor and have one outside of all sleeping areas. Test them once a month as well.
A space heater is a fantastic appliance, so long as you take the proper precautions and follow these safety rules. Of course, you could always just put on a sweater and some heavy socks (my father’s favorite saying when I was growing up!).