Heat Wave

Staying Cool: How to Heat-Proof Your Home

As the summer heat intensifies, finding ways to keep your home cool becomes a top priority. While central air conditioning is a popular solution, not everyone has access to it. Fortunately, there are several practical and cost-effective methods to maintain a comfortable living environment, even without central AC. Check out these proven strategies to beat the heat and keep your house cool during the sweltering summer months.

Optimize Natural Ventilation

Take advantage of natural ventilation to keep your home cool. Open windows and doors on opposite sides of your home to to create cross ventilation and fresh air to circulate, especially during cooler mornings and evenings.

Use Window Coverings

Windows can be a significant source of heat. Install reflective blinds, shades, or curtains to block out the sun's rays during the hottest parts of the day – around 3:00 p.m. Light-colored window coverings are particularly effective in reflecting sunlight and reducing heat absorption.

Make a Cooling Oasis

Place a bowl of ice or a chilled damp towel in front of a fan to circulate cool air. Set up a misting system using a spray bottle filled with water to create a cooling mist in the immediate area.

Create an Air Circulation System

Set up fans strategically to create a cooling breeze throughout your home. Place box fans in windows, facing outward, to expel warm air. Use portable fans strategically inside the house to circulate cool air and create a refreshing cross-breeze.

Reduce Internal Heat Sources

Be mindful of activities and appliances that generate heat within your home. Minimize the use of heat-generating appliances like ovens, dryers, and dishwashers during the hottest parts of the day. Switch to energy-efficient LED lights that emit less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Optimize Nighttime Cooling

Leverage the cooler nighttime temperatures to cool your home effectively. Open windows and strategically position fans to draw in cool air. Consider using a window or attic fan to quickly exhaust warm air from the house. Remember to close windows and blinds during the hottest parts of the day to retain the coolness.

Upgrade Your Bedding

Sleeping comfortably during hot nights can be challenging. Choose lightweight, breathable bedding materials such as cotton or bamboo sheets. Use a buckwheat or cooling gel pillow to help regulate your body temperature and promote better sleep.

Stay Cool with AltaMed

Staying cool during the summer months is essential for maintaining comfort and well-being. Even without central air conditioning, there are several effective strategies to beat the heat and keep your home cool. Also, remember to stay hydrated, dress in lightweight clothing, and limit strenuous activities during peak heat hours. Prioritize your health by implementing these practical and cost-effective tips to beat the summer heat.

AltaMed can connect you with local resources that can get you donated fans to help keep you cool at home. Just contact us at (888) 499-9303.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Disaster Plan

Be Ready the Next Time Disaster Strikes

Californians are too familiar with disasters. Wildfires, floods, mudslides, and earthquakes are all part of living in California

The Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks California as the second-most disaster-prone state after Texas with 336 major disasters between 1953 and 2020. That includes the 2020 wildfires that burned more than 4 million acres.

Everyone needs to have a plan for coping with an emergency. In some cases — like wildfires, floods, and storms — you have a little time to prepare. Disasters like earthquakes can strike without warning.

Here are some important ways you can be ready.

Woman Preparing Emergency Medications

First-Aid Kits

Every household should have one. If not, start putting one together. You can buy some kits pre-assembled. You can also buy what you need piece by piece. Regardless of how you do it, remember it’s for emergencies. Try not to use the contents unless there is an emergency, otherwise you might not have what you need when disaster occurs.

Basics should include:

  • Two pairs of sterile gloves
  • Sterile dressings
  • Soap and antibiotic towelettes for disinfecting
  • Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Eye wash
  • Thermometer
  • Medicine dropper
  • First-aid book
  • Pain reliever, antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, laxatives or other over the counter drugs
Woman Shopping Bottled Water

Earthquake preparations

The best time to prepare for any disaster is before it happens. It’s best to prepare ahead of time, especially for earthquakes, given their unpredictability. Part of those preparations should include a communications plan. Make sure there is an out-of-state contact you can alert. You should also plan where to meet if you are separated from family.

In addition to a first-aid kit, your supply kit should have a gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food for several days, a flashlight, fire extinguisher, and a whistle.

Buying all these items at once can be expensive, so buy them over time and put them in a durable bag or plastic bin that’s easy to access.

If you are in an earthquake, you should:

  • Pull over if driving and set your parking brake.
  • Turn face down and cover your neck and head with a pillow if you’re in bed.
  • Stay outdoors if that’s where you are and get away from buildings.
  • Make sure to avoid doorways if you’re inside during an earthquake. Don’t run outside. Crawl under a table if possible.
Kit Emergency Prep

More Emergency Kit Musts

Having emergency kit items in your house is good. Assembling them in a kit is better. Putting items in airtight plastic bags and putting those bags in a storage bin or duffel bag is the best.

A disaster could leave you without power, water, or cellular service. You will need to be self-sufficient for several days. So, have:

  • Water — at least three gallons per person
  • Food — three days of non-perishable energy bars, canned fruit, canned juices, comfort snacks
  • Extra doses of medications that your family regularly needs
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • A weather radio with tone alerts
  • Flashlight
  • First-aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Dust masks
  • Plastic sheets and duct tape
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, plastic ties, and hygiene products
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener
  • Local maps
  • Portable cell phone chargers and backup batteries

Always Here for You

AltaMed is here for you regardless of the circumstances. We provide primary care, urgent care, behavioral health servicespediatrics, dentistry, health screenings, women’s health, and much more.

Call (877) 462-2582 and get started with us today.

Family cooking foodborne illness

Keep Foodborne Illnesses from Spoiling Your Summer Picnic

Summertime fun is right around the corner after more than a year of social distancing and being trapped inside. We have opportunities to get reacquainted — carefully — with friends and family, so let’s take a couple of minutes to brush up on some basic food safety tips for those backyard barbecues and cookouts in the park.

Cleanliness and careful preparation are important to keep bacteria, toxins, parasites, and germs from poisoning your good time. After all, the only thing you want to take home from one of these celebrations are great memories.

Man on Couch with Foodborne

Food Poisoning Basics

Every year, about 48 million people in the U.S. are affected by some type of foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning. Food poisoning is often caused by a bacteria or virus which can come from almost anywhere. Food can become contaminated when it’s harvested, processed, distributed, or when it’s being prepared.

Most foodborne sickness causes diarrhea and vomiting and resolves itself within a day or two. People with compromised immune systems, the elderly, young children, and pregnant women are at greater risk for serious and even potentially deadly complications.

Some of the more common causes of foodborne illnesses include:

  • Escherichia coli — Some E. coli can cause severe illness while others are harmless. Cook food well, don’t consume raw milk, and keep hands clean when preparing food to prevent the spread of E. coli.
  • Norovirus — This virus comes from consuming contaminated food or water. It can also be passed from person to person, so wash hands and produce carefully.
  • Salmonella — Meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables, spices, and nuts can all be contaminated, so make sure to cook and wash foods thoroughly before consumption.
  • Listeria — Listeria is typically caused by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products. The infection can move from the gut into the blood or brain leading to a blood infection or meningitis and it can be fatal. It can also cause serious conditions for expectant mothers, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, or death in newborns. It's important to keep food preparation areas and tools clean, scrub fruits and vegetables, and cook meats thoroughly.
  • Hepatitis A — This is a virus found in contaminated water, shellfish, and salads. It usually appears two to four weeks after exposure and resolves itself within two weeks.
Food on Grill

Safer in Four Steps

Bacteria need an opportunity to grow, and viruses need the chance to spread. Don’t let them! You can reduce your family’s risk of getting a foodborne illness by remembering to clean, separate, cook, and chill – every time!

Clean hands and produce — Have some wipes for your hands and wash fruits and vegetables before you pack them in case there’s no water available where you’re going. Always clean hands after touching raw meat and cover surfaces if you can’t clean them. Clean the grill and tools before and after using them. Be sure to check brush bristles and public grills for cooked-on food.

Separate raw foods from cooked — Bacteria live on raw meat and seafood until it’s cooked so don’t let that raw food touch cooked meats or other foods that are ready to eat. Throw away any marinades and don’t let them touch prepared foods. Put the cooked food on its own plate and use different utensils for handling raw and cooked meat and seafood.

Cook meats well — Killing harmful bacteria depends on getting meat to the right internal temperature. The best way to be sure is with a meat thermometer. Beef, pork, and fish should get to 145 degrees (Fahrenheit). Hamburgers should be done at 160 degrees. Chicken and turkey are done at 165 degrees. Smoking meats requires temperatures to reach between 225 and 300 degrees.

Keep foods cold — Ice is extremely important for picnics because bacteria like warm environments (between 40 and 140 degrees). That’s why you keep the potato salad, deviled eggs, and banana pudding on ice until it’s time to serve. Also keep meats on ice until they’re ready for the grill. Foods need to be refrigerated within two hours of cooking, or sooner if it’s 90 degrees or warmer. Throw away anything that’s been out longer than that.

Mom and Kids Disinfecting Their Hands

Remember COVID-19 Safety

We couldn’t finish this post without reminding you that COVID-19 isn’t completely under control. Only gather with close family or friends who have been vaccinated against or are recovered from COVID-19. Wear a mask whenever possible, wash your hands frequently, and try to keep some space between yourself and others.

AltaMed Has You Covered

Food poisoning, sunburns, sprained ankles, pulled muscles, heat exhaustion, and dehydration are some of the things that can happen during the summer if you’re not careful. Don’t let any of this discourage you from getting outdoors to exercise, filling up on delicious, seasonal produce, and living a healthy, active life. AltaMed is here to help if you overdo it. Learn how to get started with AltaMed or call us at (888) 499-9303.

Staying Cool: How to Heat-Proof Your Home