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keep_coolSummer is time for fun in welcome warm weather—but it’s also important to stay cool when the temperatures really get up there. Both indoors and out, keeping cool will help you and your family feel more comfortable and avoid heat-related health problems as well.

Limit outdoor activity during the middle of the day as much as possible. Save mowing the lawn for later in the day or early in the morning. Get your walking or running in early before the sun’s heat makes things uncomfortable. You’ll feel better, and it’s better for your health, too. Keep an eye on children, who tend not to notice the heat as they focus on their activities. Make sure they take breaks in the shade, and have plenty of water available at all times. Fruit that contains a high percentage of water, such as strawberries, apples, cantaloupe, and watermelon are welcome treats on a hot day.

When the temperature rises, it’s also important to pay attention to the elderly, as they often have diminished abilities to cope with heat. Keep water available within easy reach and monitor the room temperature. If there isn’t air conditioning at home, an outing to a movie theater, mall, or library can be a comfortable and fun way to spend a few hours in a cooler environment.

Indoors, keep south- and west-facing windows covered during the day to minimize heat buildup as the day progresses. Open the windows in the evening when it cools down to let the fresh air in. Ceiling fans and portable fans do a good job of circulating air; even though the air itself isn’t being cooled, the air movement will make it feel several degrees cooler and make things much more comfortable. Hot air rises, so it’s likely that heat will build up quickly on second-story levels. Try cooling these areas before bedtime for better sleep. Electronics, especially large flat-screen televisions, generate quite a bit of heat when in use, so consider limiting viewing time. You’ll save energy, too.

When cooking, stick to grilling outdoors or using the microwave whenever possible. Be sure to set the dishwasher on its unheated drying cycle, and take advantage of the delayed-start feature if your unit has one. Setting it to start later in the evening can help keep things cooler. In the laundry, use full loads and dry clothes early in the day to avoid heating up the house. Think of the dryer as a heater that will run for an hour or so—not a pleasant thought on a hot day!

You can use these practical ideas right now in your home. Enjoy the summer—and stay cool.

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