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Beat the Heat with Summer Safety Tips

The best energy efficiency is energy efficiency practiced safely.  

Temperature Safety: Don’t keep your home too hot or too cold to save money– never set the thermostat at a temperature that threatens your health. Efficiency is all about safety and comfort. 

  • Set your thermostat from 76 to 78 degrees for a safe and efficient temperature. Turn the AC off when you leave home unless you have pets or people in your care who need to stay cool. 
  • If you don’t have a cool place to stay, visit a cooling center or public space for a break. Special centers are available in state facilities across Illinois to help consumers stay safe in the summer or winter. Find warming and cooling centers near you. Many of those are open during business hours and Tollway Oasis locations are open 24 hours a day. Also, don’t be afraid to ask a family member or friend if you need refuge from the heat or cold. 

Stay Cool 

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Sip about four to eight glasses of fluids a day. Avoid too much alcohol or caffeine, which promotes dehydration.
  • Add a fan to your summer defenses. Set your thermostat at a smart temperature, and then use a fan to help circulate the cool air. Run it counter-clockwise, from your position looking up at it.  Remember fans cool people not rooms, so turn them off when no one’s around. 
  • Need a bit more help to stay cool? Use a spray bottle filled with cool water to apply a refreshing mist on your face. Soak your feet in cool water. Place ice cubes, wrapped in a wet fabric, on your “pulse points,” where the blood vessels are close to the skin: wrists, neck, the insides of your elbows, the tops of your feet and the inside of the ankles. Take a cold shower or bath as well. 
  • Close your curtains or blinds to keep the heat of the sun out. 
  • Try to keep the rooms you use most (i.e. the TV room) the coolest. 

Symptoms of Heat Stroke: Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temps and not enough hydration. Heatstroke is more serious and occurs when the body starts to lose its ability to regulate itself. The signs of a heat stroke are:

  • An extremely high body temperature, such as 103 degrees or above
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Throbbing headache 
  • Rapid and strong pulse

If you notice these symptoms in another person, the Mayo Clinic says to call 911 or your local emergency number and then move the person out of the heat and try to cool them immediately (sponge the person with cool water; fan the person and spray them with a cool mist; cold shower, etc.).

Outlet Safety: If an appliance frequently trips your electric circuit breaker, disconnect it immediately and have the outlet evaluated by a qualified electrician. Older wiring in buildings may not be able to handle the electrical demand of modern appliances and may cause electrical fires if not maintained. 

  • Extension Cords: Keep portable appliances on extension cords to protect against power surges. Extension cords should be in good condition and kept free from heavy furniture or rugs. Plus, make sure to match three-prong extension cords with three-prong outlets. (Don’t ever cut the third prong to make it fit in an outlet. That third prong is a safety measure that grounds the device.) 

Fire Alarm: Make sure your fire alarm is working properly. Electrical fires are a year-round threat to your home. (While you’re at it, also make sure you’re carbon monoxide detectors are in working order also. Carbon monoxide is less of a threat in the summer, but it’s the law.) 

Additional Resources 

  • CUBHelpCenter.com has efficiency tips, and information on possible sources of assistance this summer.
  • KeepCool.Illinois.gov (and Keep Warm Illinois) has information on cooling (and warming) centers in the state. It also has tips like this: During heat emergencies, seniors are urged to contact their local area agencies on Aging or the Senior HelpLine at (800) 252-8966 for assistance with locating senior centers, adult day service sites and other buildings that serve as cooling centers.
  • FindHelp.org can help you locate a wide range of assistance programs based on your Zip Code. (Also, contact charities, such as the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and the Heartland Alliance, to see if they offer assistance for utility bills. Also, check with your municipality and religious institutions. And ask family and friends if they know of organizations providing assistance)