July is always one of the hottest months in the U.S., but this year the heat got an early start. Sustained hot weather has slammed huge parts of the country, and led to some serious consequences. All those AC units employed to bring some relief to homes have contributed to the extended post-storm power outage in the eastern part of the country; five days in, the count is still over a million customers in the dark. (I'm writing from Austin; this year Texas's famously warm weather is a little less impressive by comparison to the midwest, the Carolinas, and many other places; temperatures are expected to remain under 100 until Saturday.) If you're in one of the severely affected areas, how has it affected you? More importantly, what strategies have you used to beat the heat in the absence of (or simply unreliable) electricity? Details help. In particular, how are you keeping the human and animal members of your household safe from overheating? Read on below for an extended set of questions on dealing with the ongoing heat wave of 2012's early summer, and respond to any of them that make sense in your situation. Note, answers are of course encouraged from people who aren't in the worst-hit areas, too! Though you're free to respond however you'd like, it would be useful if you start with your location right at the top of (or in the title of) your comment, so others can scan them easily.
- How hot is hot for you, locally? What temperature extremes have you seen in your own dwelling or neighborhood in recent weeks? (Also, how are you measuring them, if in any way more specific than reading local weather reports? Do you have a home weather station, and is it hooked to an upstream data feed like The Weather Underground?)
- Have local power systems failed, and if so for how long? Do you have a generator, and do you have any advice for others who are considering one?
- Some people (especially kids) face greater risks than others in sustained heat, and some types of medicine require refrigeration. What are the consequences for you and your household of extreme heat?
- If air conditioning is part of your strategy for keeping cool, what do you do to maximize its effectiveness? (Insulate or cover windows? Run it at certain times of day? Raise the thermostat and rethink your idea of "room temperature"?)
- If your power goes out, how prepared are you for a one-hour blackout? What about a day, or a week? Have you taken any measures to keep your life sane if a storm (or just a glitch in the grid) robs your home of AC, TV, and PC? Even if your local summer weather hasn't been unusually hot thus far this year, are you keeping more water or other supplies on hand in case your area later gets gets the heat-and-darkness treatment?
- What advice would you give to others who want to maintain safety and sanity while under the broiler? (Especially useful are ideas for city dwellers, who don't generally have space for an extra freezer or a safe place for a generator.)
- Whether you're in one of the worst hit areas or not, are you taking any steps to protect electronics and data from outages or extreme heat? Have you seen any failures that you believe to be caused by temperature extremes?
- Finally, what are you doing to find some relief from this summer's heat, other than cranking up the AC? Are you spending more time at the local pool? Waking up early to enjoy morning temperatures? Scanning San Francisco real estate prices?
I hope your Independence Day is a good one, no matter the temperature.