THE HEART OF THE MATTER
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Week: 532.5 Guest: Tom Newton, Exec. Dir., Certainteed Home Institute Topic: Home Cooling Tips Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: During the dog days of Summer, when the heat and humidity rise, many people tend to want to stay inside...but that may not help those who don't have, or are too frugal to use air conditioning...in fact, staying in a home that is not ventilated properly can be even more dangerous than going out in the heat. We'll have some information on heat exhaustion and heatstroke in just a bit...but right now, Tom Newton of the Certainteed Home Institute has some info on keeping your home cooler...

NEWTON: A house works as a unit, and it relates to the roofing, the ventilation of the house, the insulation of the house, the windows, and even the shrubbery and trees outside. What's really important in the summer, even if you live in the north, is the attic space heats up...so you have to have proper ventilation, to allow the hot air to escape...window fans, small ones...little nine inch window fans in there to suck the hot air out as it builds up during the day makes a big, big difference. The heat that radiates down, so the more that you can remove that air, it's not uncommon, even in the northern climates, to have that attic temperature reach 170 -180 degrees during the day, so if you can keep that air moving, it'll help maintain a much lower temperature, so it'll cool easier and faster in the evenings.

NEMA: How bout some tips on sunlight and window fans?

NEWTON: Make sure that you keep the shades drawn in the room, especially during the hottest part of the day, and lowering the windows so you draw your air in....with fans, make sure you take the hottest air, whether its outside or inside, and direct the fan. You don't want to suck in hot air from the outside during the heat of the day...you want to blow out the air that's inside so that it forms a draft to bring air in.

NEMA: Doesn't opening both the top and bottom of a window also help in creating good circulation?

NEWTON: Obviously, if you have curtains that block the top - that doesn't help. But if you have open curtain areas, window areas, you can do that...the warm air rises, of course, so the coolest air's gonna be at the bottom, and you form a circulation pattern in a house. That's very typical, you don't even need a fan for that, it happens naturally. And one of the best ways to keep cool are with those ceiling fans that are installed. Its a good way to keep the air moving.

NEMA: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that as recently as 1980, 1700 deaths were due to heat exposure. Here are some tips on staying cool:

* dress appropriately, in loose fitting, cotton clothes * drink water consistently, before you are thirsty * avoid drinks that contain alcohol and caffeine, they can interfere with sweating, and act as a diuretic, causing the body to lose fluids * eat light...salad and fruit, they replenish fluids and raise your metabolism less than eating meats * take cool or tepid showers or baths...water takes heat from the body better than air * spend the hottest part of the day in a movie theater, shopping mall, library, or other air conditioned, public buildings

Heat exhaustion causes someone to sweat excessively...and become pale and clammy. Its accompanied by nausea, dizziness and perhaps fainting. The pulse rate and respiration are fast, and headache and muscle cramps may occur. In this instance....get the person to a cooler, quiet place, and raise his feet a bit... loosen clothing, and administer water with a little salt...a teaspoon for each quart.

Heat stroke is extremely dangerous...the victim's temperature rises to 104 degrees or higher very quickly...and he's flushed, with hot, dry skin and a strong,rapid pulse...he could become quite confused, or unconscious. Do whatever you can to cool the victim, and get immediate medical attention. I'm Steve Girard.