Stay Warm and Cozy in Your Apartment This Winter

Baby, it’s cold outside. But that doesn’t mean you should be cold inside! After once residing in a drafty 1890’s apartment, I had to learn fast how to keep warm. Hope my lessons learned keep you warm and cozy in your apartment this winter.

Light

How we dream of a bright, warm sun all cold, dark winter long. Although daylight hours are short, and the winter sun is not strong, it can help to warm your home. Keep your blinds open on sunny days. Sun streaming in your windows will help to warm your place and the sunlight will make the season seem less dreary. Once the sun sets, close up your blinds to add a layer of insulation against the cold.

Layer

When I was a kid, my dad would turn the thermostat down to 60 degrees every night. When my brother, sister, and I complained that we were cold, he’d say, “Go put on a sweater.” So layering on a sweater or sweatshirt, snuggling up with a cozy throw, and wearing warm slippers or thick socks has been a life-long tradition. Thanks, Dad!

Drafts

Take a moment to see if there is any cold air coming in around doors and windows. Draft stoppers at your door or window can really cut down on the drafts. Even a rolled up towel can help! If you have curtains on your windows, you can add a plastic shower curtain liner on hooks. You can also try wide painter’s tape to cut drafts around doors and windows without worrying about damaging the walls or trim. You can also buy foam liners for your outlets and switch plates to block cold air drafts – especially helpful on outside walls.

Bedtime

Bring on the flannel sheets and flannel jammies! Flannel is just so cozy – and inexpensive! You can also layer up your bed with extra blankets and/or a throw. Years ago, I visited some friends in Denver. I cannot even describe how cold it was in their home at night. I put newspapers under my fitted sheet and wore my coat to be the first night. The next day I discovered that they kept a basement window open all winter. Whaaat?? But guess what? After a few nights, I realized I was getting great sleep and no longer needed the newspapers or coat. To this day, I like to sleep in a cool room – but with layers of flannel, blankets, and covers.

Use Your Oven and Stove

Leave your oven door open after each use. Whether backing, roasting, or broiling, this will allow the hot air to escape and add heat to the room. However, be cautious about doing this if you have children or pets; make sure they can’t reach the hot oven door or inside the oven. And never use the oven as a primary source of heat, especially if your appliance uses natural gas. Burning natural gas for long periods can increase carbon monoxide levels in your home. Think about baking something long and slow, like a delicious, easy, loaf of bread. Make a sheet pan supper! One pan, easy clean up, warms up the kitchen.

Warm Drinks

Besides warming up your space, you also can warm yourself from the inside. Opt for hot meals, such as a cup of soup, on cold days. And consider making your own soup from scratch, like chicken soup or chili. Soup generally takes a while to cook, and the simmering pot on the stove will generate heat in the kitchen. Or how about a cup of hot chocolate or a hot toddy?

Use a Humidifier

Humid air generally feels quite a bit warmer than dry air. And running the heat in the colder months can strip your indoor air of its humidity. To balance this, consider using a humidifier. Look for the models that allow you to choose between warm and cold air; they typically cost more but are well worth it for the heating ability.

Reverse the Ceiling Fan

It might seem counterintuitive to use a ceiling fan when you’re feeling cold, but it actually can help to warm you up. Let your ceiling fan turn at a low speed in a clockwise direction during the colder months. This will help to push the warm air that rises toward the ceiling back down toward floor level.

Use Microwaveable Heating Pads

A microwavable heating pad fairly inexpensive, and  can make a huge difference when you’re cold. As an added plus, you don’t need to be near an outlet us use it. Use a heating pad on your hands and feet when you’re sitting or lying down to feel considerably warmer overall. You can even make a basic heating pad yourself by sewing dried beans inside a piece of 100 percent cotton fabric, which you then can microwave in 30-second increments until it’s at your desired temperature.

Cuddle

Snuggles really can keep you warm. We all produce heat through our metabolic processes, and lose our heat to the environment as we maintain body temperature. Increasing skin contact decreases opportunities for the heat to be lost to the environment around us. If two people are under a blanket both of their heat losses combined can increase the temperature under the blanket more quickly than either could do independently. Plus, it’s fun. Don’t forget to snuggle up with your pooch – dogs are like heat generators. Remember, “Happiness is a Warm Puppy“.

Clear Heat Vents, Registers, and Radiators

Pull furniture, curtains, and other items away from heat vents, registers, and radiators. If they’re blocked, the heat won’t be able to circulate.

Be Active

Movement generates body heat. And there are many ways to get your body temperature up by being active. For instance, you could clean the house, exercise, dance, or play a game. Consider setting a timer as a reminder to get up and move every so often, so your body doesn’t become so cold and stiff that you don’t feel like being active.

While I like to dream of being someplace warm and sunny on a cold winter’s day, the idea of cozying up in a comfy sweatshirt and fluffy slippers while sipping hot chocolate under a fuzzy throw with my pup and binge watching Netflix doesn’t sound too bad. Although I am counting the days until the pool opens. Just sayin’.

Staying Safe in Summertime Heat

Hot summer sun causing heat wave

Hot Sun in the Summertime

Unlike Sly and The Family Stone’s Hot Fun In The Summertimea heat wave is no fun. The extreme heat of this summer can take all the fun out of the season if we’re not careful. Let’s chat about staying safe in this summer’s heat.

But first, some background. I grew up in a small ranch-style house in northern New Jersey without air conditioning. On hot summer nights, my brother, sister, and I would sleep – or try to – on folding lounge chairs on the back patio; sometimes our friends from next door would join us in a make-shift pajama party. The huge oak tree next to the patio made us feel like we were under a leafy cathedral ceiling. We used pieces of cardboard to fan ourselves while trying to find the Big Dipper and the North Star until we finally dozed.

My folks had a box fan in one of their bedroom windows, and dad had it set to pull the hot air out of the room. To keep their room as cool as possible, their door was kept shut and the curtains were pulled. Drapes were drawn in rest of the house too, and the windows kept shut to keep out the heat and hot air. Hot summer days in the house were dark, close, and still; hot summer nights were dark and still as well and the quiet was disturbed only by the drone of mosquitos and rhythmic call of katydids.

My 87-year-old mother has lived her entire life in homes without air conditioning, and actually has trouble adjusting to air conditioned environments. But, with the extreme heat the entire country is experiencing this summer, she’s here with me in my air conditioned Kentucky home.

Despite the access to AC, this unprecedented heat wave presents other challenges to keeping our cool and enjoying the summer. What do we watch out for, how do we keep safe, and how can we still have hot fun in the summertime?

What to watch out for

 Health risks associated with heat exposure can range from milder conditions such as heat cramps to heat strokes, which can be fatal. Let’s get familiar with the symptoms of heat-related illnesses to head off potential problems.

  • Mild dehydration and heat cramps — muscle pain or spasms — may be early signs that your body is not reacting well to the environment, said Matthew Levy, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
  • Heat exhaustion symptoms are more worrisome. These can include heavy sweating, elevated heart rate, nausea and vomiting, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and generally feeling unwell. Some people who are experiencing heat exhaustion might also faint. “This is where things are getting dangerous fast,” Levy said.
  • If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it may progress to heat stroke, which means the body’s core temperature has reached the point where cellular damage may start to occur.
    • The key feature of heat stroke is central nervous system dysfunction – confusion and possible seizures.
    • Another sign is lack of sweat. A dry person who’s not thinking clearly is at big risk and should seek help ASAP.

 How to stay safe

  •  Keep cool and hydrated.
  • Stay in spaces with air conditioning. If you only have a fan, experts recommend misting yourself with a spray bottle of cold water.
  • Spend time at indoor public places such as malls or libraries.
  • Go to a park, which can be five to 10 degrees cooler than indoor space.
  • When outdoors, dress in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and protect yourself from the sun with hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Drink plenty of water, but don’t guzzle it; drinking too much water could cause a potentially fatal condition known as hyponatremia.
  • Don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine, both of which can be dehydrating. A good way to know whether you’re adequately hydrated is to pay attention to the color of your urine. Dark yellow is not good; very pale yellow or clear is ideal.
  • Limit outdoor exercise to less intense workouts, and do them early in the morning or in the evenings.

 Who is at increased risk?

 Although anyone can be negatively affected by hotter temperatures if they’re not careful, certain populations are more vulnerable, including the elderlyyoung childrenathletespeople who have chronic medical conditionspregnant people and those who may be struggling with mental health issues.

If you know anyone who might be at increased risk, check in on them during heat waves and make sure they’re equipped to stay safe.

  • Invite an elderly relative to stay with you (like me and my mom!).
  • Help someone get to a community cooling center.
  • Stop by people’s homes to make sure their air conditioners are working or to bring them cold drinks.
  • NEVER leave young children or pets in cars on hot days, even if the windows are open.
  • Pets are at risk, too! Click here for tips on keeping your pet safe in the summer.

 What to do if you or someone else is sick from the heat

  •  Get into a cooler environment — preferably some place with air conditioning — as quickly as possible.
  • Lower the body’s core temperature by removing clothing and wetting skin with cold water.
  • Hydrate with cold fluids, such as water or electrolyte drinks.
  • For more severe problems like heat stroke, seek medical help immediately.
    • While waiting for assistance to arrive, it’s critical to take action. Get the person out of the heat and either into air conditioning or shade. The fastest way to cool someone down in an urgent situation is cold-water immersion — the colder, the better. If that’s not possible, pour cold water on the person’s head and clothing.

Ideas to have fun despite the heat

  • Go to a pool in your community if available. Bring water in non-glass containers.
  • Visit your neighborhood library or indoor shopping mall
  • Go the movies
  • Visit a local museum
  • Stay inside and read a good book
  • Eat ice cream
  • Go bowling
  • Try an escape room

Above all, remember that cool fun in the autumn-time will be here before you know it.

How about another shameless plug for our hard-working team of Fath Properties service professionals who are always there to keep your place cool so you can Love The Place You Live?

Resources: Washington Post, CDC

Summer Safety for Furry Friends

 

Some areas of the USA are experiencing record-setting high temperatures this summer while others have more rain than they can handle. Me thinks Mother Nature is a wee bit perturbed with the way we treat Mother Earth. That is a story for another day. Today we’ll talk about pet care and safety tips for the summer heat.

The news is loaded with ways to keep us humans safe during a heat wave, but what about our furry friends? We think of them in human terms as well, don’t we? Yes (emphatically), we do. But our fur babies can’t cool off by sweating like we do. Below are some summer safety tips for our furry friends.

Car Rides

“Wanna go for a ride?” is like music to most pup’s ears. But summer rides can be deadly. Watch veterinarian Ernie Ward show how quickly temperatures rise in a parked car. YIKES. Never, ever, EVER leave a pup in a parked car. Not even for a minute! Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.

Although Fido may be miffed at being left at home and may munch on your favorite kicks in retribution, do it. He’ll get over it, and you wanted to buy a new pair of shoes anyway. If you’re driving with your dog in the car, bring water and a portable water dish (or this nifty water/bowl combo) and take Gus with you when you leave the car.

Download the Humane Society’s PDF for more information.

Paws

You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk!” Yep, concrete sidewalks, asphalt, and metal can get blisteringly hot. Try to keep Moose off hot surfaces; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. And please don’t drive around with your dog in the bed of a truck. It does not make you look cool and the hot metal can burn paws quickly. Worse yet, your dog can fall out or be injured or killed in an accident. See? Not cool. Avoid walking pups in the heat of the day and walk them on the grass. If outdoor walking on hot surfaces can’t be helped, consider some stylin’ booties or paw wax to protect those sweet Fritos-scented feets.

Water and Shade

Bring a portable doggie dish and plenty of water available to avoid dehydration. Relax in the shade as much as possible or bring your own.

Pet Sunscreen

Even very furry dogs can also be prone to sunburn if their nose, ears, belly, and other sensitive areas aren’t covered with pet sunscreen. Hairless breeds must be protected when outdoors, as they are more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer. Never use human grade sunscreen on pets as it is toxic. Opt for a sunscreen suitable for pets.

Protective Clothing

Putting Cookie Crumb in a shirt may seem counterintuitive (but adorable!) when it is hot outside. However, some doggie clothes can help keep Ollie cool and shaded. If Rascal has short fur, light colored fur, or is hairless, you can opt for sunscreen clothing for pets. Dogs that are sensitive to the sun’s rays might enjoy doggles, or pet sunglasses.

Haircuts

Should you shave your dog’s fur or hair? WAIT! If you have a double-coated breed like a Golden Retriever, Border Collie, Aussie, Sheltie, Newfoundland or Bernese Mountain Dog, the answer is NOPE. Ready all about it here. For other breeds, read this before giving FiFi a new do.

Cookouts & Picnics

They will beg. They will plead. They will droll. So much. While dining al fresco is loads of fun, the food and drinks offered can be bad for dogs. Keep Lily and Poppy away from alcohol and foods like grapes, onions, and chocolate and other foods Taxi should not consume.

Fireworks

Many dogs are fearful of loud noises, especially fireworks. The dangers are obvious – pets are at risk for fatal injuries and painful burns if they are allowed to run around freely when fireworks are being used. Some fireworks also contain chemicals toxic to pets like potassium nitrate and arsenic. And remember, their hearing is many times better than ours. Don’t believe me? Try whispering, “Chicken?” and see what happens.

Keep Chester indoor with the TV or music playing to lessen the disruption. Your vet can also recommend something that will calm your pup if he’s very, very afraid.

Indoor Fun

Those days when it’s just too dang hot to go anywhere, perhaps a game of the Invisible Food Challenge could be fun?

So while you are enjoying Hot Fun In The Summertime, keep Peanut Chillin’ In The Summertime.

 

Resources: Humane Society, Pet Health Network, Shiloh Veterinary Hospital, ASPCA, 5 Points Animal Hospital, Pets WebMD