Keeping Cool When Your AC Breaks Down

Air conditioning is a great tool for finding relief from scorching summer temperatures. AC units sometimes fail and you may find yourself needing to cool off without one. In sweltering temperatures, you have to watch out for heat exhaustion and if your body temperature continues to rise you can suffer from a life-threatening heatstroke. So what should you do to cool off when you cannot rely on AC?

Stay Hydrated
Drinking water helps keep your body temperature regulated. You should drink water or sports drinks and avoid alcohol and soda. Drink water throughout the day even if you aren’t thirsty to help your body keep its temperature low.

Use Fans
Set up some fans (does not matter if stationary, oscillating or both), and use ceiling fans when available. You can even place a bowl of ice in front of a fan for a slight cooling mist. At extreme temperatures, the CDC recommends to not rely on a fan as your only means of cooling off as fans become less effective if they are just pushing hotter and hotter air around (like how your car’s AC isn’t pushing cool air when you first start it).

Spend Time in your Basement/Lowest Level
If you have a basement, spend as much time during the day down there. If you’re able, you should sleep down there too. Since basements are underground, they will be much cooler than the main level of your house if you do not have air conditioning running. Though not as cool as a basement, the lowest level of a home will be cooler than upstairs if you do not have a basement.

Keep Cool with Water on Your Skin
Place a cool wet washcloth on your neck, armpits, and forehead. If you have a misting spray bottle, you can spritz yourself and your skin to help cool down. Taking short cold-water showers can achieve this too. If you want to use an ice pack for cooling down, make sure to put a cloth between the ice pack and your skin to avoid conditions like frostbite.

Keep the Shades and Curtains Closed
Reduce the amount of sunlight coming into your home by keeping any shades and curtains closed. Doing so will also help any residual cool air still in your house stay a little longer. You should also keep any windows closed to help keep any remaining cool air from escaping outside.

Shut Doors of Unoccupied Rooms
Keep the doors of any rooms not being used shut. This will help any remaining cool air confined to the room or rooms you are staying in.

Avoid Using Your Stove and Oven
Stoves and ovens will radiate heat making your house (especially your kitchen) hotter so you should avoid cooking with them as much as possible during a heatwave if you do not have a working AC unit.

Dress Lightly
Avoid heavier clothing items that make it harder for your skin to breathe and cool down like jeans, socks, and long-sleeve t-shirts. Stick to light short-sleeve shirts and shorts to help keep cool.

Spend time in Places that have AC
Especially during the hottest times of the day (12p-6p) spend time in places that have working air conditioning. This can include public spaces like libraries, cafes, theatres, and stores, or the house of a friend or family member (make sure to social distance if everyone is not fully vaccinated).

With these tips, you should be able to keep cool until you can get your air conditioner up and running again.

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