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Slashdot Asks: Beating the Summer Heat?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-it's-a-moist-suffocating-heat dept.

Earth 421

July is always one of the hottest months in the U.S., but this year the heat got an early start. Sustained hot weather has slammed huge parts of the country, and led to some serious consequences. All those AC units employed to bring some relief to homes have contributed to the extended post-storm power outage in the eastern part of the country; five days in, the count is still over a million customers in the dark. (I'm writing from Austin; this year Texas's famously warm weather is a little less impressive by comparison to the midwest, the Carolinas, and many other places; temperatures are expected to remain under 100 until Saturday.) If you're in one of the severely affected areas, how has it affected you? More importantly, what strategies have you used to beat the heat in the absence of (or simply unreliable) electricity? Details help. In particular, how are you keeping the human and animal members of your household safe from overheating? Read on below for an extended set of questions on dealing with the ongoing heat wave of 2012's early summer, and respond to any of them that make sense in your situation. Note, answers are of course encouraged from people who aren't in the worst-hit areas, too! Though you're free to respond however you'd like, it would be useful if you start with your location right at the top of (or in the title of) your comment, so others can scan them easily.

  • How hot is hot for you, locally? What temperature extremes have you seen in your own dwelling or neighborhood in recent weeks? (Also, how are you measuring them, if in any way more specific than reading local weather reports? Do you have a home weather station, and is it hooked to an upstream data feed like The Weather Underground?)
  • Have local power systems failed, and if so for how long? Do you have a generator, and do you have any advice for others who are considering one?
  • Some people (especially kids) face greater risks than others in sustained heat, and some types of medicine require refrigeration. What are the consequences for you and your household of extreme heat?
  • If air conditioning is part of your strategy for keeping cool, what do you do to maximize its effectiveness? (Insulate or cover windows? Run it at certain times of day? Raise the thermostat and rethink your idea of "room temperature"?)
  • If your power goes out, how prepared are you for a one-hour blackout? What about a day, or a week? Have you taken any measures to keep your life sane if a storm (or just a glitch in the grid) robs your home of AC, TV, and PC? Even if your local summer weather hasn't been unusually hot thus far this year, are you keeping more water or other supplies on hand in case your area later gets gets the heat-and-darkness treatment?
  • What advice would you give to others who want to maintain safety and sanity while under the broiler? (Especially useful are ideas for city dwellers, who don't generally have space for an extra freezer or a safe place for a generator.)
  • Whether you're in one of the worst hit areas or not, are you taking any steps to protect electronics and data from outages or extreme heat? Have you seen any failures that you believe to be caused by temperature extremes?
  • Finally, what are you doing to find some relief from this summer's heat, other than cranking up the AC? Are you spending more time at the local pool? Waking up early to enjoy morning temperatures? Scanning San Francisco real estate prices?

I hope your Independence Day is a good one, no matter the temperature.

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421 comments

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Sorry, but, WHAT?!? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543817)

All those AC units employed to bring some relief to homes have contributed to the extended post-storm power outage [slashdot.org] in the eastern part of the country;

Get the fuck out of here. How exactly does my use of an air conditioner in the summer contribute to extended post-storm power outages?

If anything, using air conditioners during peak power times increase their revenue which should in turn enable them to BUY MORE FUCKING HELP.

"We don't have enough people, we don't have enough money, rabble, rabble, rabble."

QUIT CRYING, AND PLAN + INVEST $$$ BETTER.

P.S. I'm sorry that people have to deal with this shit. You guys should seriously be fucking rioting outside of Power Company X's corporate offices.

Re:Sorry, but, WHAT?!? (3)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543831)

Get the fuck out of here. How exactly does my use of an air conditioner in the summer contribute to extended post-storm power outages?

Don't worry, AC, he wasn't talking about you...

Re:Sorry, but, WHAT?!? (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544101)

Alternating Current, that is exactly what we're talking about here.

Re:Sorry, but, WHAT?!? (4, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543909)

QUIT CRYING, AND PLAN + INVEST $$$ BETTER.

As an accident of geography, my town has three power companies. In my corner, luckily, I have the power company that does preventative maintenance and when there's a bad ice storm, we lose power for usually a couple of hours, once nearly a day.

Seven miles away, they have two-week outages. The PUC sets the rates independently, so it's not a matter of funding. If anything, my part of town is lower profit (less dense).

Re:Sorry, but, WHAT?!? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544221)

"I have the power company that does preventative maintenance and when there's a bad ice storm, we lose power for usually a couple of hours, once nearly a day."

My power company also does preventative things by BURYING THE FUCKING CABLES!
I had no outage for 19 years, the year the house was connected.

Re:Sorry, but, WHAT?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544339)

We have buried cables and lost power during a flood last year, for almost two weeks.

Turn off your mining rigs (4, Funny)

ribuck (943217) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543839)

To beat the summer heat, turn off your Bitcoin mining rigs. If you turn on the air conditioning to compensate, it's going to cost you more electricity than the value of the Bitcoins that you generate.

Re:Turn off your mining rigs (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544103)

Someone needs to start supplying PC heat pumps -- where all that exhaust energy is actually used to drive the pump, cooling the house and decreasing the overall amount of heat exhaust (as some of the heat will be converted into kinetic energy).

Re:Turn off your mining rigs (5, Funny)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544119)

Why should anyone on /. turn off their rigs? It's nice and cool in our parent's basements.

Atlanta area... (4, Informative)

aapold (753705) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543849)

It was 106 at my car on friday when I got out of work. It was 107 outside my house saturday. Some areas around atlanta his 109 reportedly. My work parking lot is a big slap of concrete surrounded on 3 sides by buildings and the 4th by a hill, so it focuses heat even more with no chance of wind. On way home from work stopped at a bank drive thru. While in line I normally fill out my slip on the back of my visor, which is solid enough to be a good writing surface. Couldn't. It was too hot to rest my hand on it, as it was painfully hot to touch. Mostly stayed indoors as much as possible. Installed some thicker curtains to block more sunlight. Drank a lot of water. Made sure dogs did not stay long in yard, and did not walk on pavement. I used to live in florida, which stays hot longer, but doesn't get as hot because the sea moderates it somewhat. But it was more humid there. Prior to that I lived in the republic of panama, which is even moreso (never gets anywhere near as hot, but even more humid). I just keep telling myself that here, at least the heat eventually ends.

Re:Atlanta area... (3, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543939)

My work parking lot is a big slap of concrete

And I thought I hated going from my car to my building!

Re:Atlanta area... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544087)

Pffft. Pussies. What a bunch of crybabies. My homeland is the Imperial Valley. Temparatures of over 110 degrees are the norm there during summertime, in fact it's what I'm used to because I grew up there. It's so fucking hot, in fact, that your breath feels cool on your face when you exhale. Old people bake to death in their own trailers.

Also, I have a joke for you, and I wish that I could have first-posted it in an appropriate discussion, but you heard it from me first:

Did you hear that scientists at the LHC also found the particle that gives space its darkness? They named it the Niggs boson!

Nyuk nyuk nyuk.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Atlanta area... (4, Interesting)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543961)

Installed some thicker curtains to block more sunligh

shutters work fantastically. and insulation. Nothing can beat those 2 at ROI. (paybacktime sometimes estimated to be at 2 years !)

Re:Atlanta area... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544251)

" I just keep telling myself that here, at least the heat eventually ends."

It will get worse every year, get out now while you still get some money for the house.

Go nomadic. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543857)

My location: http://freecampsites.net/!#mammoth lakes, ca

It's nice.

Australia, it's winter here (4, Interesting)

tqft (619476) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543859)

and my biggest weather problem is keeping my coffee warm.

You know how a lot of people rag on the preppers who keep plenty of supplies & their own generating kit & stuff for end of of times. Guess who has power & food that isn't going to go off. Prepping isn't just for alien invasion scenarios.

Not in the upper-left-hand corner (3, Funny)

thatseattleguy (897282) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543861)

I live in Seattle, you insensitive clod!

(where many residents were still using their furnaces as of last week, and today's the first sunny and warmish-day in what seems like a month)

Shemagh/Keffiyeh. (4, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543871)

I bought one on Amazon just to try it out. Who would have thought a bunch of people living in a desert would have figured out how to stay cool. Re-wet it depending on how hot it is. Wring it out and put it on. Keep water in the fridge and it works even better.

If I've come back from a long run nothing cools me down faster than 1 or 2L frozen water bottle applied directly to arteries.

No AC growing up, and we just layed in front of fans and drank water. Human body can take quite a bit if you give it adequate water.

Re:Shemagh/Keffiyeh. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544053)

Shemagh / Keffiyeh only work in dry/arid environments. Crank the humidity up and you'll probably kill yourself from heat stroke while wearing it.

Reason for their non-popularity in the jungle :D

Re:Shemagh/Keffiyeh. (4, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544195)

It just means you have to cycle the water more frequently. It's been rather humid lately and the water doesn't evaporate but it warms up. So you get new water.

AC is one of the least efficient ways of cooling someone. Just like in the winter you can save a ton on your heating bills if you get an electric blanket. One for the couch and one for the bed. The heat is applied directly to the skin and you're warmer. Cooling 1700 sqft of house for 3 people is horrible in efficient. Cooling 2 cups of water and putting it on your head to absorb heat from your body is much better.

Re:Shemagh/Keffiyeh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544331)

It's been rather humid lately and the water doesn't evaporate but it warms up.

You do realize that the mechanism by which you cool your skin is by evaporation, right? It's why sweating doesn't help at all in humid places.

Sure, if the water is cooler than your skin, it helps a bit, but you'd be better off grabbing a freeze pack.

Re:Shemagh/Keffiyeh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544071)

...No AC growing up, and we just layed in front of fans and drank water. Human body can take quite a bit if you give it adequate water.

Can depend on what you grew up with. All time record high for town I grew up in is 30C, I start to melt once temp gets above 25C. On the other hand I have shoveled snow in -40C temps for more than 2 hoours with no ill effects - probably would kill a Texan...

Re:Shemagh/Keffiyeh. (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544231)

On the other hand I have shoveled snow in -40C temps for more than 2 hoours with no ill effects

I live to go snow shoeing in weather like that. Snow sounds different when it squooshes under your feet at those temps... squeaks kinda.

Thing is you can always thrive in comfort, not just survive, in cold weather by wearing the more of the correct clothing. If it gets colder you put on more/heavier clothing, no problemo. The problem with heat is totally nude I get pretty uncomfortable above 80 degrees... so once I've taken everything off, what next? (Maybe this is too much information?)

Re:Shemagh/Keffiyeh. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544157)

The only problem with this is you look like a goddamn terrorist or at least some filthy camel jockey.

Re:Shemagh/Keffiyeh. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544163)

Nothing says stupid fucking white people like going outside to run when it's 115 (chicago).

Re:Shemagh/Keffiyeh. (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544225)

Like all those stories you hear about Africans dying in the heat wave.

White roofs help greatly. (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543881)

Location = SC.
Temps = over 100 last few days, 97 today, Horrid humidity as normal.

I had coated black roofs for years (I prefer metal roofing because it's tough and taxes are lower. I loathe asphalt shingles!) but two years ago I hit all my roofs with white roof coating including my non-air conditioned shop.

It reflects so much light that you can get sunburned by the reflection if you apply it on a bright day. I had to wear sunglasses while mopping it on!

Hard to measure on my utility bill what with all the tools I run, but I'm much more comfortable. If your local codes/covenants allow white or light roof materials or coatings, give them a try.

Re:White roofs help greatly. (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544133)

How are your winters for heating with a white roof? I guess probably not all that bad in SC...

Re:White roofs help greatly. (4, Interesting)

bmxeroh (1694004) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544263)

My understanding is that with the sun at a much lower angle during the winter, it really doesn't make much of a difference, even more so if you're somewhere where the roof is covered in snow. I'm sure there may be some exceptions depending on geography, but it seems like the benefit of a white/light roof in the summer far outweighs the slight reduction in solar heating in the winter.

Re:White roofs help greatly. (2)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544317)

If your local codes/covenants allow white or light roof materials or coatings, give them a try.

It is crazy if they don't allow it. In fact they should not allow anything else if you live in a hot climate.

Cooling Without Power (or very little power) (5, Informative)

Nos. (179609) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543883)

Re:Cooling Without Power (or very little power) (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544253)

I was just about to post about these general methods.

Shadowing things helps massively.
Seriously hot areas sometimes have laws on the colors your house can be, sometimes even forcing you to essentially white only.
Make things as reflective as possible.
Even if you have to release a sail on the opposite side of the sun-facing side of your house, it helps. (this helps because if you open your windows on opposite sides, one side is cool, the other boiling, you get a nice air current)
The more in shadow you can make it, the better. Just being on the opposite side of the sun won't help, it needs to be really dark.
Sadly this won't work on all homes because some idiots decided it was a great idea to build houses that weren't in line with the way the sun travels...

Sprinklers.
A fountain works brilliantly in this case. More so if it generates a nice mist on collisions. Make as many falls as possible to maximize this. (plus it sounds real nice)
Even better if it refills automatically when it falls below a certain level.
That hose on roof sprinkler system is such a GOOD idea. I never thought of doing that before.
If you could make a system like that run on automation, ultimate house cooling. (you'd need to basically intercept the water stream coming down the pipes, which I am sure I remember reading is illegal in some areas of the world, make sure to check beforehand)

Coolboxes are fairly effective.
Basically an inverse heatsink that takes heat out of the air in to ice inside the container. Bonus points for dry ice or more exotic.
More effective if placed at fans and windows.
If you can make a system that has the ice in a basement and cycles the pipes up through the house, ultimate liquid cooled house.
If you do actually do this, make sure the pipes are also at ceiling level. I know this doesn't exactly sound safe in the slightest, but heat does rise.
Make sure things are sealed! This is advanced so shouldn't really be attempted unless you are experienced with putting pipes together. (or you know someone who is absolutely capable of it, not just "oh yeah I could do it!" friendly favor type help)

Try to find breeze channels in your house and attempt to maximize them. These are both a menace and a very useful cooling system.

Many of those above can be combined in various ways for separate methods of cooling.

For people and animals
wet towels, cool strips and hats for the face.
A water sprayer on a rough spray / mist setting if you can change the density, spray yourself with water every so often.
White clothes, nothing else.
Make sure they are thin and loose to allow sweat to get out.
Make sure things are covered and not open to sunlight. That is the worst thing to do in heat.

Most of these things are fairly simple to do for an average family to do with a little DIY.
Some are more advanced, especially if you attempt to place pipes around a house.
There is far more things you could do, some even involving simple DIY systems, but it also involves some electronics and pump systems which is beyond the scope of this, really.

Alternatively, make a massive sterling engine in your garden connected to some pumps that moves water around your house.
Because why the hell not? Steampunk as F&*@.

Blackout shades (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543889)

Assuming a properly constructed and well insulated newer house, I can't overstress the importance of blackout roller or honeycomb shades in cutting down the thermal gain from sunlight on windows.

There is no heat (3, Funny)

ronpaulisanidiot (2529418) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543891)

This is nothing. I beat the heat by denying it because global warming is a hoax. The invisible and infallible hand of the free market will cure this problem just as it has with every other problem humanity has ever faced.

Re:There is no heat (2)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543985)

is that the same hand that saved all those banks ?

Re:There is no heat (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544013)

This is nothing. I beat the heat by denying it because global warming is a hoax. The invisible and infallible hand of the free market will cure this problem just as it has with every other problem humanity has ever faced.

Indeed. If not for all those pollution restrictions of the past few decades it would be nice and cloudy outside.

Native SC Here. (3, Interesting)

Kr1ll1n (579971) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543895)

What heat wave?

Seriously, South Carolina has always been hot and humid, even in winter. This past Saturday (it was 105 degrees) we spent all day outside. Took our 21 month old daughter to the zoo, and then we all went to a disc golf course built on a ball golf course. we were out at the course from 3:00pm to 7:00pm. We did rent a golf cart, which provided some shade, and I also made sure our daughter got water at least every 15 minutes. No heat stroke, no sunburn (and we didn't have any sunscreen on), and no dehydration.

It's as if a bunch of people were brought up to believe human beings aren't adaptable to some moderate temperature hikes. We are, only stupid ones aren't.

Re:Native SC Here. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544185)

Unless you're naturally dark skinned, you're full of shit.

Let me guess... You're a wop?

Deal with the heat (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543899)

After living in Memphis for some years now, here's how I adapted and feel completely comfortable at 90-100F

The adaptation phase:
1. Go outside, work in the yard, and sweat.
2. Drink lots of gatorade.
2. Set your thermostat at 80F, use fans when sleeping.
4. Get used to feeling sticky.
5. Drive with your windows down, no A/C

When going outside, I wear a wide brimmed hat, a long sleeve Dry-tec shirt, any color.

I now feel cold and need a jacket below 70F

Move to central Oregon (1)

cluedweasel (832743) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543905)

We managed a staggering 67F yesterday. Saturday did manage to struggle to 73F before some rain brought the temp back down to 64F. Today should get to 72F. At 14:40pm, it's 65F. As for overnight lows, anywhere from 36F to 45F. The local ski resort was open last weekend into the bargain.

Charlotte, NC, and Brunswick GA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543907)

The heat has been bad, very bad in Charlotte, and rather humid in GA. I think we hit 108 in charlotte at one point last week.
The thing, wear comfy loose fitting clothing, lighter colors are best.
Also, I found a good pointy bamboo leaf hat is amazing. Take some silk, and put it inside so it makes a band between your head and the hat. After you start sweating, take off the hat for a minute or two, then put it back on, The silk will feel amazingly cool. This is an awesome thing if you cannot be in a place with AC, or in some cases power.

Calgary here. (2)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543911)

I've had a few power outages lasting maybe 30 seconds in total, which is rare, because prior to several weeks ago, it has been over a year since the last (20 second) power outage. It is currently 19C here, with a high of maybe 20. It will cool off to a chilly 6C tonight, so I shouldn't have any problems sleeping. My cat is fine and my AC unit is still sitting in the shed beside my snow shovel.

Re:Calgary here. (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544271)

Calgary doesn't get humidity, even when it hits 30C during a heat wave, it's nice and dry. Far more pleasant than the humid mess we get near the Great Lakes. I didn't know anyone with AC when I lived there, I think all my dad did was have a fan running cool air from the basement through the heating ducts, and then leaving windows open at night to bring in the cool air.

Nothing beats a summer prairie storm! :)

Humidity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543919)

For me the killer now is humidity, it is somewhere around 67%.
Fortunately we have power so the AC is running strong.

One thing I did is get tinted window film, this helps a lot, particularly on large glass windows or sliding glass doors you don't want to put blinds on.

I beat the heat in Maryland (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543925)

I moved back to Canada.

Bonus: I don't have to hear about the presidential election.

Move (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543933)

Move to the Pacific Northwest. That's what my wife and I did.

http://www.weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/graph/USOR0275 [weather.com]

No concern of heat or dry or hurricane or earthquake or tornado ...

Re:Move (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544235)

Move to the Pacific Northwest. That's what my wife and I did.

http://www.weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/graph/USOR0275 [weather.com]

No concern of heat or dry or hurricane or earthquake or tornado ...

http://news.discovery.com/earth/megaquake-schedule-pacific-northwest.html [discovery.com]

You may not have any concern, but you should. The Megaquake is coming; it's only a matter of when, not if.

The PNW also has to worry about fire and flood, depending on where you situate.

If you don't have a "all infrastructure will be down for the next 6 months" emergency plan and live in the PNW, it's going to really suck when something bad happens. Just hope that it's not in your lifetime.

What's wrong with the Americans? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543937)

Why can't you live without your AC? Many places are much warmer and people can't afford AC. They simply adjust and get used to the heat. Men is adapted to hunt kudus in the scorching heat of the southern African plains and should be able to deal with this. Accept the heat and stop wasting energy please.

Re:What's wrong with the Americans? (0, Troll)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544015)

Why can't you live without your AC? Many places are much warmer and people can't afford AC. They simply adjust and get used to the heat. Men is adapted to hunt kudus in the scorching heat of the southern African plains and should be able to deal with this. Accept the heat and stop wasting energy please.

It is not a waste of energy to cool my house to a safe and comfortable level and I will use my energy any way I damn well please as long as I'm paying the bill for it.

Re:What's wrong with the Americans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544127)

Unless you're elderly, I doubt turning off the airco will bring the temperature to unsafe levels and, although you're your power supplier, I don't think you're actually paying for the negative externalities in excessive energy consumption. The US consumes much more per capita than any other country and uses it's military to keep the prices down.

Re:What's wrong with the Americans? (0)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544257)

Why can't you live without your AC? Many places are much warmer and people can't afford AC. They simply adjust and get used to the heat. Men is adapted to hunt kudus in the scorching heat of the southern African plains and should be able to deal with this. Accept the heat and stop wasting energy please.

It is not a waste of energy to cool my house to a safe and comfortable level and I will use my energy any way I damn well please as long as I'm paying the bill for it.

You sound like you're from California....

Re:What's wrong with the Americans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544059)

Posted as "AC" for ironic effect

Re:What's wrong with the Americans? (2, Funny)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544183)

Many places are much warmer and people can't afford AC.

Why even bother owning things? Some people are extremely poor! If I can live without it, I shouldn't have it at all!

Re:What's wrong with the Americans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544301)

They use AC because they are fat.

103 degrees F in Madison, WI (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543945)

Highest temperature I can recall ever seeing here in my 13 years living here. There haven't been any major power outages in the region that I've heard of (the local news has been pretty much leading every broadcast talking about the heat), although a few days ago a couple thousand people lost their power for a few hours in the middle of the night. Bet that was awesome, as our overnight temperatures are hovering in the high 70's, low-mid 80's. At 10 o'clock last night it was 85 or somewhere around there, I was sweating my ass off watching our local Independence Day fireworks...

Our boxer absolutely cannot deal with this heat (he's got longish hair, looks almost like a miniature St. Bernard even though he's been genetically tested 100% boxer) so we've been minimizing his trips outside to potty breaks, although we spoil the shit out of him so I doubt he really minds being stuck inside with his humans in the A/C.

Anybody Remember Swamp Coolers? (3, Interesting)

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543947)

Ponca City, Oklahoma

Back in the 1950s, we used "coolers" - huge metal boxes that cooled by evaporative cooling. The walls of the cooler were filled with porous wood shavings and a pump circulated water that dripped through the shavings while a 10 horsepower motor sucked air through the shavings and into the house. My bed was right in front of the blast of air from the cooler and I remember that it seemed to cool quite well - probably lowering the inside temperature 5 to 10 degrees and making it quite comfortable during the night. I found out years later that what we called "coolers" were called "swamp coolers" in other parts of the country [wikipedia.org] and in my travels I saw swamp coolers still in use in desert climates in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California.

One reason that coolers worked so well back then was that during the drought, the humidity in Ponca City was about zero so water evaporated readily [typepad.com] . It seems to me that up until about 1976, when Kaw Dam was built east of town, the humidity was a lot lower in Ponca City. My mother says that having Kaw Lake so close changed the weather patterns around Ponca City and that the humidity rose a lot since its construction. If someone tried to use a swamp cooler today, I doubt if it would work at all.

Every summer I would spend a month with my grandparents in Boswell, Oklahoma. Nobody thought anything about the heat - it was just how life was. But everybody looked forward to the cool of the evening, just when the sun got low in the sky and the shadows would lengthen and the fireflies would come out. The whole family would go out on the big front porch, sit in the swing, drink ice cold ice tea, and wait for our neighbors to come around and sit down with us to talk about the events of the day. Simpler days and better perhaps - at least in memory.

Re:Anybody Remember Swamp Coolers? (2)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543989)

Back in the 1950s, we used "coolers" - huge metal boxes that cooled by evaporative cooling.

In Tucson, AZ, swamp coolers work great for about 46 weeks of the year, although they're not needed in the winter months. Humidity can be in the single digits, and usually 30%. But for the 6 weeks of Sonoran Monsoon season (storms hitting the town with a vengeance today) the humidity is through the roof and the coolers lose their effectiveness. If you can stand those 6 weeks, they are the energy efficient solution to have.

Re:Anybody Remember Swamp Coolers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544179)

> while a 10 horsepower motor

10 HP? That's fscking huge.

My parents house had a swamp cooler when I was growing up in SoCal. I did too on the first house I owned, also in SoCal. The fan motor was only 1HP or maybe 1.5HP max.

Don't believe me? Go check out the dimensions of any 10HP electric motor compared to the dimensions of a 1HP motor.

Re:Anybody Remember Swamp Coolers? (2)

tylernt (581794) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544213)

a pump circulated water that dripped through the shavings while a 10 horsepower motor sucked air through the shavings and into the house

10 HP = 7.5 kilowatts, which is about double what a whole-house air conditioner would use. Google suggests swamp coolers are usually equipped with up to 1 HP motors.

I Can Drive Up Into The Mountains (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543953)

I've seen it snow on top of Trail Ridge Road in the middle of July. I was up there a couple weeks ago. It was 100+ down on the plains where I live, and 70 up there. Nice! You do get sunburned a LOT faster up there, so be sure to put sunscreen on before you go.

We were without power for two days during the first snow storm of this winter. I've never had a huge amount of faith in our electrical grid, but that pretty much eliminated whatever faith I had left. I have gas for hot water and the furnace, but the furnace also needs electricity to run. So I'm planning to put a standby generator in and run it off the gas, as soon as I can afford it. It doesn't even really have to be all that big. It wouldn't take a lot to run my refrigerator and furnace, and maybe a couple of lights. It'd still cost a bit to have a contractor pour a concrete block and have a panel installed so I don't inadvertently fry linemen who come around to fix the power outage, but I'd be a lot more comfortable having backup power.

Re:I Can Drive Up Into The Mountains (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544073)

Judging by your location and sig, I suspect the High Park Fire is all your fault.

Re:I Can Drive Up Into The Mountains (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544305)

have a panel installed so I don't inadvertently fry linemen who come around to fix the power outage

Ask the electrician for a transfer switch, or google the term.

Its really for the generator's health anyway. My stationary diesel mechanic uncle told some story about a crankshaft shearing clean off when a gen got plugged into short circuit.

If you ever try backfeeding at home, you'll instantly discover that your little generator cannot backfeed the entire neighborhood as it'll pop the breaker. The conditions required to electrocute the linemen are really rather far fetched. Happens occasionally non the less.

How About...? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543955)

How about not living in a hot place in the first place -- at least for the summer months?

Re:How About...? (2)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544165)

Ahh, "let them eat cake" approach...

maryland here (3, Interesting)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543963)

Has been out of power 2 days. Having multilevel housing helps the temperature distribution vua wide vertical passage through the stairway. Spent it in the first level.

Most pressing was having cellphone powered. Did it in the mosque (only two buildings in the area were left powered: mosque and McDonalds), thanks to Allah, I go there for all five prayers.

Two of my friends (Virginia, Maryland) did not have it today. One of them got it today.

Small detail. Monday morning during commute hours noticed police car in the ambush at the unpowered intersection with major road/minor road scenario), checking for rollers. Really, police? Really?

I am originally from the steppe area of Russia, so we have derecho-shmerecho all the time, only it was called strong wind. Short after I left, there was the most serious hurricane that broke half of the trees in my parents town. The power was restored within few hours. That was 90s, the time of lawlessness and collapse in Russia, black years of Yeltsin, organized crime and disorganized government.

This country is going down.

Re:maryland here (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544061)

Sorry forgot to answer questions while ranting.

1/ did not measure the temperature. I was relying on my thermostat. Checked the weather via cell phone/weather channel app
2/ home depot was out of generators pretty quickly
3/ i did not have any consequences, I have got workarounds (I am young, only in my mid 40s)
4/ when power is back on, I shield all the windows. I have "duck taped" (foil from grocery store) one of windows to increase the reflective coefficient. It works.
5/ how prepared? I did not prepare anything, except a flashlight and a kitchen lighter for the gas stove(normally, goes of the spark).
6/ "are you keeping more water" No. US is not there yet. At least in the DC area. They better keep the metropolitan area in shape, like Soviets did in their time with Moscow.
7/ "are you taking any steps to protect electronics and data from outages or extreme heat" power is out. Electronics is not working what the heck are you talking about?
8/ "what are you doing to find some relief from this summer's heat, other than cranking up the AC" nothing

If you have AC there is no difference for me. I do not spend much time outdoors.

Re:maryland here (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544229)

4/ when power is back on, I shield all the windows. I have "duck taped" (foil from grocery store) one of windows to increase the reflective coefficient. It works.

I did this when I was a teenager living in Florida. My bedroom sat facing the front of the house and got direct sun all day, and to top things off it was a huge bay window with a window seat so the amount of light (and thus heat) coming in was astronomical. Bought a roll of tinfoil, covered the window, and the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees in that room within an hour or so.

The problem was my parents, who thought that we were going to get "goddamned raided under suspicion of being a grow op", plus it tended to reflect directly at the 4-way stop in front of our house which cause a few complaints. A few weeks later the Homeowners Association stuck a letter in our door about it and that was the end of my tinfoiled windows.

Re:maryland here (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544115)

Small detail. Monday morning during commute hours noticed police car in the ambush at the unpowered intersection with major road/minor road scenario), checking for rollers. Really, police? Really?

Yeah, they always have their priorities right. Probably should have been going door-to-door checking on old people, who drop like flies when the heat's up.

Re:maryland here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544281)

...Really, police? Really?...

Ahhh, good old 'libertarian'. lone wolf USA. The land of opportunity... to make a quick buck.

Almost seven years ago, here in third world Mexico, we sat under Hurricane Wilma for two whole days. Power was back on in twelve hours. And we hardly have any buried lines either. What we do have is a federal government operated electric company. Make of that what you (not you personally) will. Anyway, the weather here in the Mayan Riviera is beautiful.

What is this, weekend AM radio? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543977)

Are you fucking kidding me? We're doing a Slashdot version of AM radio weekend shows where old people call up and the host says "what's the weather like, where you are"? Fucking lame.

Anyway, it's not that big of a fucking deal. It has been between about 95-105 every day in Denver for the last two or three weeks (though it'll be cooler over this coming weekend). I keep the evaporative cooler dialed to '6' and when it gets a little warm, it kicks in. Keeps it at around a constant 70-75 degrees indoors for a whopping $20/mo. The only time it would become anything less than completely comfortable is if it happened to become very humid outside (doesn't happen much in the summer) or if the temperature reached about 115 degrees outside (also not likely to happen).eath

Re:What is this, weekend AM radio? (1, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544121)

Are you fucking kidding me? We're doing a Slashdot version of AM radio weekend shows where old people call up and the host says "what's the weather like, where you are"? Fucking lame.

Anyway, it's not that big of a fucking deal. It has been between about 95-105 every day in Denver for the last two or three weeks (though it'll be cooler over this coming weekend). I keep the evaporative cooler dialed to '6' and when it gets a little warm, it kicks in. Keeps it at around a constant 70-75 degrees indoors for a whopping $20/mo. The only time it would become anything less than completely comfortable is if it happened to become very humid outside (doesn't happen much in the summer) or if the temperature reached about 115 degrees outside (also not likely to happen).eath

Thanks for calling in your report.

Austin (2)

tanujt (1909206) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543979)

As timothy mentioned, the Texas ozone hole has been working out and seems to be in better shape now. I typically bike for 20 minutes around noon everyday, and it tends to be ~95-100 F. If power goes out, I will survive for at max a day on. After that, I'm moving in my university lab.

Couple of points to keep in mind to avoid heat/sun-strokes:

- Wear a cap, no matter how douchebag-y it makes you look. Heating up of the head leads to headaches, drowsiness and other symptoms of a "heat-stroke"
- Avoid frequent high temperature gradients. For example, if you're driving to lunch from work, and the restaurant is only a few minutes away, I suggest do not turn the AC on. It sounds like a Herculean task to sit in that hot tinbox without AC, but it's the frequent hot-cold-hot-cold cycles that actually hurt your body more. If it's unbearable, just put it on low cool and low fan for a few minutes.
- Drink loads of buttermilk (the salty/sour ones, my choice [karouncheese.com] ). It is culturally used as a coolant in parts of middle east and most of India since the days of the dinosaurs.

Re:Austin (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544147)

Drink loads of buttermilk (the salty/sour ones, my choice [karouncheese.com] ). It is culturally used as a coolant in parts of middle east and most of India since the days of the dinosaurs.

Yeah, I always liked dinosaur milk better than the bovine stuff people drink nowadays. But it's gotten really hard to find.

Re:Austin (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544249)

- Drink loads of buttermilk (the salty/sour ones, my choice). It is culturally used as a coolant in parts of middle east and most of India since the days of the dinosaurs.

Another popular one is to eat lots of watermelons - also used as a way to keep cool without refridgeration in many parts of the world (they keep, after all). And they also hydrate, which is extremely important (even though it can be 100% humidity, your body still sweats and expels surprisingly large amounts of water).

Also, switch hours - avoid doing anything during the hottest part of the day (afternoon) - just sleep and do your other activities in the much cooler early morning hours. If your work allows, come in at 10pm and work through 6AM or so then get sleeping through the afternoon and evening until the sun goes down. It'll be hard to sleep in the heat, but it's harder still to work in it. You'll find many outside workers do that in the desert, for example.

Water rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543981)

I built a water rocket launcher for my kids. http://www.sciencetoymaker.org/waterRocket/index.htm

Waynesboro, Pa USA (2)

jrmcferren (935335) | more than 2 years ago | (#40543983)

Currently it is 92.5 degrees at the high school weather station. When the storm came through we lost power twice, but only a matter of milliseconds each time (UPSes switched over and lights flickered). My family does have a generator that we can use if there is a long duration power failure.

My biggest advice for purchasing a generator is to know how to size, maintain, connect, and most importantly for portable models store the generator. When sizing the generator, take the following priorities in order. (NOTE: THIS LIST DOES NOT TAKE MEDICAL EQUIPMENT INTO ACCOUNT, THAT IS PRIORITY ZERO!) First, you want to maintain your refrigeration of food, cooking can be done with non-electric methods. Remember, you can disconnect a refrigerator momentarily to run the microwave if you have enough capacity in your generator. Second thing you want to look for is cooling of people, if cost of the generator is a problem, rule out air conditioning and use fans during the outage if possible, otherwise you may want to look at dropping some of the lower priority loads. If you must have air conditioning and you have a central air conditioning system, use a window unit in one room temporarily and live out of that room for the duration of the outage, this reduces the cost of the generator substantially. Third priority is lighting at night. This is best provided by incandescent or halogen lights as CFLs and LEDs can be damaged by power fluctuations in smaller generators caused by refrigerators and air conditioners starting. Fourth on my priority list is battery charging for communications, The idea is to charge batteries later at night when your generator load is lower. Get a jump start pack and charge that up and use the lighter sockets in it to charge the cell phones during the day. Don't worry about cordless phones, that is a very low priority in this situation use a wired phone on the landline. Everything after these four priorities are considered luxuries. TVs, PCs, even your router and modem are very low on the list. A transistor radio will serve you well to bring news and information.

In our household the extreme heat means we are running air conditioners harder than normal and in the case of the bedroom units, starting sooner than normal. The obviously affects our electric bill.

Preparation for a long duration outage in my household simply means we will have to take the gas cans out of the area to get gas for the generator. If out power dies, at least two of the local gas stations will be down as they are served from the same substation and it is very unlikely that the line between my house and the substation would be knocked out as the line is short (I'm about a block from the substation).

My advice to the city dwellers that don't have power or air conditioning in this heat is to simply get out of the situation. At a minimum go shopping at the mall during the daytime and best find another place to stay.

Protecting electronics and data is actually of minimal concern to me as my equipment is protected by a UPS and my data is backed up with the most critical backed up in multiple places. I do recommend an off site backup of some kind though. I have not seen any damage directly related to this extreme heat in any of my equipment or any other equipment that I've seen.

My method of beating the heat is simply cranking up the A/C and drinking more water. My home has air conditioning, my car has air conditioning, and my office has air conditioning.

Re:Waynesboro, Pa USA (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544209)

TVs, PCs, even your router and modem are very low on the list.

Gotcha. You said medical equipment was priority 0, so we've marked the TV/PC/Cable modem as -1.

This IS Slashdot, after all!

I live in a basement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543987)

You insensitive clod, so even though it's hot outside, it stays relatively cool down here.

Re:I live in a basement (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544159)

You insensitive clod, so even though it's hot outside, it stays relatively cool down here.

Doesn't your mom ever tell you to get out and get some exercise?

Seattle here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40543991)

What is this I don't even?

Early Planning for Global Warming (1, Informative)

Cheech Wizard (698728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544007)

106 degees F briefly here in West Chester, Ohio this afternoon. Started planning for global warming in 1996. Down sized to a small 1100 sq foot house. Between then and 2007 put an additional 20" insulation in attic and attic vents, replaced all external doors with insulated ones (including the garage door on the attached garage), put in all new triple pane, xenon(?) gas filled windows w/ UV blocking exterior panes, installed a Kohler natural gas 17KW backup generator with auto-failover, replaced central air conditioner with 3 smaller individual Mitsubishi ductless high efficiency 20 SEER AC units (2x 12K BTU and a "main" 24K BTU). I can cool this puppy down to 68 in weather like this without breaking a sweat (pun intended). I can pretty much take anything short of a direct hit by a tornado, or a significant earthquake, and stay cool (or warm in the winter). Planning is everything.

Re:Early Planning for Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544135)

Started planning for global warming in 1996.

Don't the global warming alamists claim a 2 degree increase in the next 100 years? You had to "plan ahead for that"?

There are AWG morons, and then there is this guy who has taken the stupidity to an unhealthy level. I can understand buying an overpriced Prius or Volt because of your beliefs and not wanting to contribute to the problem (which I disagree with, but can understand). But buying a new house and adding insulation because of "global warming" fears is probably the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

You sir, have convinced me it is no longer worth discussing the global warming hoax with AGWers becuase you all are so out of touch with reality its not even worth acknowledging your viewpoints anymore.

Move to the UK? (1)

xiox (66483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544017)

It has been one of the wettest ever Junes here in the UK and it is still raining heavily. When it is not raining it's heavy cloud. Although that's stereotypical weather here, it's more like what you'd expect in the winter. I'm feeling like an extra in Waterworld and shall shortly be growing gills... The problems started when drought measures were brought in to combat falling water reserves.

I'm freezing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544021)

I live in the southern hemisphere, you insensitive clod!

Central Alberta, Canada (1)

nblender (741424) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544023)

Ok, so it hasn't been unseasonably warm yet but this weekend it's forecasted to be fairly toasty. I have an acreage with my own well. Having recently replaced the old oil burning furnace with a high-efficiency nat.gas furnace, I had the HVAC guy install a chiller coil in the plenum for an extra $150. The water I pull out of my 10gpm well comes out at 8C so I plumbed the well water through the chiller coil in my furnace (after removing the orifice), and hooked a solenoid up to the furnace so when the thermostat calls for cooling, well water runs through the chiller coil and blows cool air through the house. The output goes to a sprinkler on the roof of the house which further cools the house. The output of the eaves runs to a drip irrigation setup which irrigates the plants and garden... Eventually, the water ends up back in the ground. Along with some awnings in front of the SW view windows, the house stays fairly cool for the price of pulling the water out of the ground (and with a variable frequency drive well pump controller, it's also fairly economical). It's possibly more economical to run an actual compressor with refrigerant for shorter duty cycles. Not sure.

Hasn't reached 80 yet (1)

BobandMax (95054) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544025)

But, San Diego has many other negative aspects, not least of which is the gaggle of idiots in Sacramento.

Air Duster (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544063)

Personally, I find that few things beat a couple of bursts of liquid air in cooling, even if it doesn't last long...

Fix your powergrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544097)

"Have local power systems failed, and if so for how long? Do you have a generator, and do you have any advice for others who are considering one?"

Power does fail sometimes (less than 15m per year on average), but having the powerlines above ground level where it can easily be damaged is just stupid. Unless you live in a geo unstable area, underground cables are less prone to bad weather.

Re:Fix your powergrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544191)

This is a really insightful comment. I'll call my power company right away to tell them!

Monterey Bay area (1)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544109)

What's heat? [wikipedia.org]

north central (1)

uniquegeek (981813) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544139)

I live in central Canada, so I use two A/Cs in my condo, at will. I love being Canadian.

I try to open the windows if I can, but my condo has no cross-breeze that I can generate, and I'm on the third/top floor. I am sure the insulation in this place is crap or non-existent. Our heating bill in winter is almost what a small house's would cost.

I have light-blocking curtain liners on all my windows, so I keep those closed in the morning (our side faces east), and crack them half-open in the afternoon. When I'm at work (September - June), I leave the drapes half-open all the time on a hot day. The plants need some light and I don't want my fish to get depressed :)

I drive with the windows down in my car if I am taking a shorter drive (>10 minutes).

Temperatures here recently have been hovering around 32C/90F.

Albuquerque (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544145)

Gold Bond Powder and I go commando... What else is there to do?

Re:Albuquerque (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544319)

Make sure to sprinkle some Gold Bond in your shoes, keeps them from getting smelly!

Simple answer (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544151)

Don't live in a part of the world where you have to keep your house refridgerated.

Some suggestions to help deal with the heat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544171)

- Reduce your physical activity to avoid heat stress
- reduce electricity usage by doing activities such playing board games or reading
- Avoid direct sunlight, go to a cool location such as a basement

Basic prep (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544189)

100 deg f in Ct have a home weather station. Backup generators make a lot fo things a lot more livable. At the time I bought my last portable unit the inverters were to costly at 10x the price for the same kw that's come down to 2.5x they are more fuel efficient and a lot quieter. Getting a generator large enough to start a whole home AC unit is rather expensive easily 10 or 20 times what your going to pay for a portable job.

As to food etc I have a lot of family up north where having a month or more's consumables is normal. When your expecting snowfalls in the feet ranges on a regular basis your not expecting to hit the grocery store even a weekly basis.

As to electronics most of them will be fine well past temps that would hurt you.

yeah, right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40544197)

visit the UK .. Nice and cool here, Noah would love it

What Summer? What heat? (1)

McPolu (932921) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544205)

I live in London, you insensitive clod!

Despite being a Slashdotter... (1)

Kevin108 (760520) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544265)

I work outside. I'm pretty well acclimated. I just adjust my fluid consumption accordingly. 85 on up all feels the same to me - although one friend suggested that was probably neuropathy.

It's perfect outside (1)

ctime (755868) | more than 2 years ago | (#40544335)

I live in an expensive area of the country, partially just to avoid the heat. I spent 20 years in Phoenix and don't mind paying a few hundred extra per month to live here. I don't think it's hit 80 degrees yet today.

Apparently it's raining in Phoenix and potentially ruining what few outdoor plans were made. In the summer (6 months of the year) it's either 110+ degrees or it decides to rain, thunderstorm and a dust cloud rolls in. I don't miss that place right now.
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