It’s well known that winter’s rough weather and freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on a home, but summer comes with its own share of potential hazards too. Luckily, there are steps homeowners can take to ready their property for the heat and maintain a happy and healthy household during the warmer months. Here are some ways that you can prepare your home for hot weather to stay cool and safe all summer long.
Preventing Home Damage
To reduce mold in humid climates, prevent areas of your home that are prone to dampness from becoming wet. Dry spills as soon as possible, and be diligent about proper ventilation in bathrooms and other areas where moisture can accumulate. If you notice any stains on the walls or ceilings, be sure to inspect the area for leaks.
Simple actions like opening a window near the shower or in the kitchen can prevent moisture from getting out of control. Also, consider purchasing moisture-absorbing crystals from local home improvement store or even a dehumidifier for consistently damp areas.
If your neighborhood is often hit with summer storms, check your trees for dead branches, rotting wood and root damage, as dead or dying trees are more likely to fall. And if a branch hangs over the roof, driveway or power lines, consider calling in an expert to have it removed.
If a storm is in the forecast, clean out your gutters and make sure your sump pump is operating properly. Secure or bring in outdoor furniture and other objects in the yard, and park your vehicles in a garage or away from overhanging branches, trees and power lines.
Dealing with Pests
When it heats up, pests such as insects, scorpions and snakes can become more active—and more problematic. In rare cases, contact with these animals can be deadly, so homeowners should take steps to keep them accessing their home.
Avoid leaving food out —it can attract ants and other bugs—and regularly clean the areas in which food is prepared and eaten. Patch holes in window screens to stop flies, bees and wasps from getting inside your home, and repair gaps around doors and windows and cracks in the foundation to keep snakes and scorpions out.
Outdoors, drain any standing water—it attracts mosquitoes—and turn off outdoor lights when not in use to discourage bugs from buzzing around. You can also limit the number of insects in your yard by covering garbage cans tightly and not consuming food outside.
Both snakes and scorpions like to hide in vegetation, including long grass and potted plants, as well as yard debris, loose sand and rocky areas. Eliminating these features from your landscaping will make your home less inviting to these critters.
When it comes to removing wasps or bees nests on your property, or trapping an animal, take proper safety precautions or consult a professional if you are not comfortable taking on the task yourself.
As innocuous as they might seem, portable fans can cause fires or injuries if their wiring is damaged. As with all electronics, do not use fans with frayed cords. And don’t run extension cords under rugs or overload your outlets. If you notice problems with outlets or you experience blown fuses frequently, call an electrician. And of course, do not place fans where they could tip over or fall.
Fans provide a cooling breeze in warm weather, but only an air conditioner can actually lower the temperature of a room in extreme heat. If you do not currently have air conditioning but are planning to install window units or central air, do so before the weather becomes unbearably hot.
Make sure the units are mounted safely and that you are using the correct cords and plugs. If it becomes very hot outside and your home has no air conditioning or the power goes out, go to a mall, library or cooling center to prevent heat-related illness on the hottest days.
Before grilling, check that your grill is in good condition and without holes or leaks. Never leave the grill unattended while cooking, and make sure to fully extinguish the charcoal afterward. Do your outdoor cooking at least 10-15 feet from your house, car or any flammable object.
In dry climates, where grass and foliage can easily ignite, be especially careful when cooking outdoors, as well as when using cigarettes or fireworks.
Repair anything around the yard or the exterior of your home that was damaged over the winter, such as roofs, walkways, decks, patios and porches. Fill in holes and check that equipment such as swing sets, trampolines and tree-houses are stable and damage-free. Keep yard tools and chemicals out of reach of children and pets, and store chemicals in their original containers, away from food.
If you have a pool on your property, keep it covered when it is not in use. Check that the fences surrounding the pool are secure and that the drains and pool equipment are not damaged. Never let children near the pool unsupervised, and keep flotation devices on hand. If possible, an adult in the household should be trained in CPR.
Keep in mind that water safety concerns apply not only to swimming pools and hot tubs but also to ponds, creeks and rainwater tanks.
Cats, dogs and other pets can be seriously affected by heat and humidity as they cannot sweat to cool themselves. Therefore, you should never leave your pet in a car and you should always provide shade and fresh, cold drinking water for any pet brought outside. Also, limit dog-walking hours to the cooler times of the day.
In extreme heat, animals—like humans—are more vulnerable if they are very young or old, or have other health problems. Knowing the signs of heat stroke in pets, and whether your pet’s breed is prone to breathing difficulties, can help you spot problems before they become severe.
If your pet is panting or drooling excessively, has reddened gums, muscle tremors or a wobbly gait, isn’t producing enough urine or cannot be awakened, seek veterinary assistance immediately. And always include your pets in your plans if you lose power or have to leave your home for any reason.
For most people, summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors while relaxing with family, friends and pets. Your home is an ideal place for this, provided you perform the proper seasonal maintenance and repairs and take precautions against summer dangers before the weather heats up.
Are you planning a summer road trip? The warmer months bring drivers a host of challenges caused by the different types of wild weather. Learn more about the dangers of summer driving.
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