The Heat is On…but the power isn’t

This topic somehow rose naturally to the top of my mind as I worked and stayed at the (powerless)  cabin at The Place on these 95 F days.  No problem, for reasons you’ll see below, but it brings up a good prepper problem to consider:  How would you deal with no power where you are likely to be?

It’s not a trivial problem.  Heat can kill; particularly the very old, very young who aren’t closely cared for, and those otherwise compromised (such as those with heart problems).  Let’s not forget those so healthy they feel bulletproof and ignore the warning signals when working in the heat, too.  

Sleep is a real problem too.  It’s very hard to get decent quality sleep when overheated; and poor sleep has a shockingly negative impact on performance, attention, memory, and learning….not to mention mood.  (One study I read once upon a time [didn’t write down the reference, sorry] showed college students felt sleep deprived on less than five hours a night of good sleep.  The problem is they showed significant cognitive decline with less than seven hours a night.

So how do you keep cool without power?

If you’re planning a place, plan with this in mind.  Good flow through of air patterns is incredibly helpful to reducing the heat level of a house, particularly at day’s end.  Old houses do this well, so long as we don’t block things with renovations or windows that don’t open.  Just make sure you have screens (and bars if security is a major concern).   

Our cabin at The Place is a portable building rather like this, but we had extra windows added to the sides and at the ends of the lofts for better air flow-through. Screening the porch so we can leave the front door open is on the To Do list and will help a lot.

 If it’s too hot outside, the porch may be better.  Sleeping porches (screened of course) were popular when I was a kid.  I’ve heard of people sleeping in the crawl space under a house when they were desperate..but I’ve never been that desperate.  Spiders. Ugh.

Another viable approach is a tent with big, screened windows for sleeping.  I keep one of these rascals in my car, as I’ve found when a building is too hot, a tent will still cool off enough for sleeping even on the worst nights.  Make sure you get windows that do close as well though, at least if you live in an area like the midwest where thunderstorms pop up suddenly.  Bedding soggy from rain is no better than bedding soggy from sweat.

ALL the screens! You could eat and rest in one of these too; when placed in both shade and wind they’re surprisingly comfortable.  I recommend one with a floor to discourage bugs.

For shorter-term solutions, fans that run off batteries can be beautiful things.  One approach is to get a small one that runs off standard batteries such as D cells.  Then  you can get a solar recharger for the batteries and have a solution for as long as the electronics hold out.  Another is to get one that runs off the same batteries as other power tools.  We’ve a big electric drill; very handy when we need one but not often needed.  The electric fan uses the same batteries.  For little extra cost, we got a solution that makes the house much more comfortable for a summer’s night or two without power.

If you use a fan that matches your tool set, the expensive part (batteries) is already covered.

There’s also an old school but useful Plan C:  Water.  Even if the water is as warm as your body, its evaporation will cool you (which is why sweat works, of course).  In my AC-free childhood, there was a lot of sponging babies down with water on the hottest days.  You can soak a cloth and drape it over yourself to get some cooling while sleeping.  It’s not the most comfortable (damp bedding) but is worth it some nights.  A modern version are cooling towels sold for athletes; basically specialized cloth that’s particularly effective for this job.  I’ve tried one; they’re fairly effective, cheap, and don’t wear out in the foreseeable future.  On the head works great.

A cooling towel, designed to soak up a lot of water without being drippy and evaporate it quickly for better cooling.

Be chill, good people, come what may.



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