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10 ways to beat the heat in Lodi

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Posted: Wednesday, June 21, 2006 10:00 pm

Keeping cool can be costly and challenging when temperatures reach 101 degrees, as they did Wednesday.

But there are some things Lodians can do to lower the electric bill, take care of the yard, entertain the kids, be safe in the sun and - most importantly - stay comfortable.

1. Maintain the AC: "The best thing anyone can do is be sure their unit is in top shape," said Henderson Brothers office manager Barbara Obenshain.

She recommends checking Freon levels, changing filters and having the air conditioning unit serviced if there are problems.

Additionally, Obenshain said homes will stay cooler if the home is well-insulated and kept shaded.

"Closing the blinds in a room with direct sunlight can drastically reduce the temperature," she said.

2. Be energy efficient: Being sure the air conditioner is working properly is only one step people can take to reduce their electric bill and increase energy efficiency in their homes, said Rob Lechner, manager of customer service and programs for Lodi Electric Utility.

He recommends keeping the thermostat set to 78-degrees or higher during the day and turned off at night or when not at home. He also said ceiling and portable fans are ideal because they help circulate the air when the air conditioner automatically shuts off.

"Some folks just don't like being hot, period," he said, "But if they're really looking for ways to conserve energy then a portable fan is the best option."

And for those willing to spend the money, Lechner said adding attic insulation is the best way to dramatically reduce both the electric bill and heat in the home.

3. Cook outside: Another way to keep homes cool in the summer months is to prepare food using the microwave or an outdoor grill, Lechner said.

Weekend weather forecast:

Today: High of 107, low of 64
Friday: High of 107, low of 64
Saturday: High of 108, low of 64
Sunday: High of 104, low of 63
-Source: Accuweather

Because using the oven will heat up the home, Lechner recommends using it as little as possible. If an oven is absolutely necessary, he said it should be used after 8 p.m., when temperatures are lower and peak energy hours have passed.

4. Stay hydrated: In addition to worrying about food, people tend to be more active in summer and should pay attention to how much water they are drinking, said Carol Farron, director of community development for Lodi Memorial Hospital.

"Drink as much water as you can tolerate," she said, "And be sure to avoid beverages with alcohol and caffeine because they cause dehydration."

Farron added eating light, healthy foods is important during summer. Sandwiches, fruit, salads and other cold items are especially recommended because they have high nutritional value and won't require firing up the oven.

5. Exercise smart: Wear sunscreen, drink water before, during and after any physical activity and try move into the shade periodically during long workouts, Farron said.

Additionally, she said regular exercise routines should be completed in the early morning to avoid dehydration or heat exhaustion.

6. Hit the pool: To accommodate one of summer's most popular activities, Lodi Parks and Recreation's program specialist, Grant Plath, said both Lodi Lake and Blakely Pool are now open for public swim, while the red cross is offering swimming lessons, and the city's summer swim league now boasts 580 participants.

7. Keep the kids inside: Some options include watching movies, roller skating, or indoor gymnasiums like Bounce About, an inflatable gymnasium offering jump houses, slides and bungee runs for children of all ages.

Bounce About manager Kayla Koenig said business at the inflatable gymnasium usually increases at times when school gets out.

She said the air conditioned building at 167 Commerce Street gives children and parents a place to stay out of the sun and have fun at the same time.

"There's no age limit," Koenig added. "Parents, grandparents, babies - everyone is welcome."

8. Don't forget the pets: Patricia Sherman, president of Animal Friends Connection said keeping pets indoors is ideal, but if there is no other choice, be sure to have shade and water for outdoor animals.

She recommends putting a wading pool in a shady area as well, so the pet can cool off periodically during the day. If the pet tips the water over during the day, then Sherman said to dig a hole and place a small tub or wading pool in it so the water is at ground level.

All water and food should also be kept in the shade she said.

Sherman also warned against keeping animals in cars or garages on hot days.

"Even in 70-degree weather, a car can reach dangerous temperatures in a matter of minutes," she said.

9. Plants need watering too: Renee Weigum of Weigum's Lodi Nursery said keeping plants and yards looking great throughout the summer months is simple.

"Lots and lots of water," she said. "Plants need to be watered and hydrated just as much as you would want to be on a hot day."

She also said to be sure to remember plants in the shadier areas of the yard because they are still exposed to the high temperatures and low humidity of summer, she said.

Also, keep in mind the time of day when yardwork is done. Mow the lawn in the early morning or late evening when the sun is lower in the sky and the air is more humid.

10. What to wear: When outdoors light-colored, loose clothing works best to keep cool and avoid any health hazards, Farron said. She also recommended natural fibers like cotton because synthetic fibers tend to increase sweating.

Contact Rebecca Adler at rebeccaa@lodinews.com.

First published: Thursday, June 22, 2006

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