Tag: battery-operated fan

Heat Wave!


As I am writing at my desk today, the Accuweather headline reads:

“Rare June heat wave grips San Francisco as triple-digit heat stifles West.”

I didn’t need to read it. I have been feeling it, even though we’re a good 450 miles south of SF! And I’m feeling it enough that I wanted to learn more.

The chart below shows heat wave trends: the number of heat waves happening in a year, in yellow, followed by the length of the heat wave season, in red. The figures start in the 60’s and continue up until 2010. you may not be able to read the fine print, but it’s clear enough that everything is trending UP. Higher temps, longer seasons.

So what exactly is a heat wave?

For the chart, “heat wave” is defined as follows: a period of two or more consecutive days where the daily minimum apparent temperature (actual temperature adjusted for humidity) in a particular city exceeds the 85th percentile of historical July and August temperatures (1981–2010) for that city.

Glad I’m not in San Francisco!

OK. But chances are that you will experience a heat wave at some point. And it could be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, over 600 people die in the U.S. each year from complications related to extreme heat. That’s more than tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, lightning or any other weather event combined! (on average, remember)

What do we need to know?

Maybe you can turn this into a little quiz?

  1. Which is more dangerous, hot days or hot nights? Answer: nights can be the most dangerous. If the body can’t cool down, your heart has to work overtime to try to regulate your body temperature.
  2. Which is more important, heat or humidity? Answer: It’s the combination. Normally, your body cools when it sweats. If humidity is too high, you can’t sweat. Watch for the expression “heat index.” It combines temperature and humidity.
  3. Why are cities more dangerous than rural areas in a heat wave? Answer 1: When there’s no breeze, air in a city degrades. Pollution is captured. People with respiratory difficulty suffer. Answer 2. Asphalt and concrete store daytime heat and release it at night, adding to the hot temps mentioned in Question 1.

Why aren’t they turning on their A/C in S.F.?

Easy question. Answer? Because only 36% of homes in SF have air conditioning!  And today, just across the water in the East Bay, in Lafayette and Walnut Creek, where air conditioning may be more widespread, there have been repeated power outages!

Wait. Power outages, too?!

Yes. The science goes something like this.

Hot weather means more people want air conditioning, so they demand more power. More power flowing through wires makes them hot. Outside heat makes them hot, too. The hotter they get, the less power they can carry. When wires (made of metal) get hot, they droop and ultimately may even hit bushes or the ground. Short circuit! The line goes down. The demand for power stays high and power is now directed through other wires. They start getting overloaded, getting hotter, etc., etc.

The system may experience a brownout (partial loss of power) or a blackout (complete loss of power), often created on purpose by the utility company to protect the system.

During a heat wave, take these sensible steps.

  1. Pay attention to the weather report so you know a heat wave is coming. Get an NOAA radio.
  2. Have plenty of water in your emergency supplies. Be sure you and everyone in your family stays well hydrated.
  3. If you don’t have air conditioning, find out where you can go that does: library, mall, movie theater.
  4. Protect the interior of your home from direct rays of the sun and from outdoor heat.  Use shades, awnings, temporary reflectors in the windows.
  5. If possible, cool off the house at night.  See if you can create cross ventilation by strategic opening of windows and doors. Shut the house down as heat begins to build.
  6. Cook outside.
  7. Wrap a damp towel around your neck. Wrap your whole body with a damp sheet. Evaporation works!
  8. Sit with your feet in a bucket of water – or a baby wading pool.
  9. Wear light clothing. Postpone your outdoor exercise!
  10. Never leave children or pets in a closed car.

Take action if you see someone getting ill from the heat.

The Red Cross describes three heat-related conditions. Know the symptoms and how to respond.

Heat Cramps – Usually occur in legs or abdomen. Get person to a cool place, gently massage the cramps. Give liquids (sports drinks, fruit juice, water).

Heat Exhaustion – Affects people working in the heat.  Signs: face is pale; headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness. Get person to cooler place. Loosen or remove clothing. Apply damp cloths. Fan or spray. Give small amounts of liquid.

Heat Stroke – This is life threatening. Body is overwhelmed and stops functioning. Signs: high body temperature, skin is hot and red. May be in and out of consciousness. Rapid, weak pulse, rapid breathing.  May vomit. Call 911 and apply rapid cooling measures: cold bath up to neck, wrap with ice-water-doused towels, spray with cold water.

Make some preparations NOW.

Learn the signs of the heat-related conditions above so you won’t have to hesitate to help someone. Be sure you have plenty of water stored in case the power goes out. Be ready to block windows using cardboard or cardboard covered with aluminum foil.

And consider investing in battery-operated fans.

Portable fans are convenient and could make all the difference for comfort – and even health — in a heat wave. Don’t be fooled thinking that they will blow as powerful a stream of air as a big electric powered fan – but the convenience of being able to place a fan right in front of you can’t be underestimated. And if the power is out, you’re really going to need that fan.

I’ve used “personal fans” in an office setting, those with a 4 in. diameter and a couple of speeds. Fine for taking the edge off, but in a real heat wave you may want a larger blade.  If you intend to use a fan to keep a baby cool, consider the models that have a heavy-duty clip.

Some fans operate on rechargeable batteries, others on regular batteries. Typically, the more batteries required, the longer the fan will run. If you select the low speed, your batteries will last longer, of course.

Here are a few battery-operated fans that have received good reviews. You might want to get a couple of different ones, and then, if you need more, get another of the one you like best! Click the image or the link to check prices at Amazon.

1-This first example uses 6 D batteries; it can also run on AC power using the adapter that comes with it. Very compact.

O2COOL Treva 10-Inch Portable Desktop Air Circulation Battery Fan – 2 Cooling Speeds – with AC Adapter

2-Here’s a second example. It’s slightly smaller, but has more options including a swivel head and 3 speeds.

Battery Operated Fan, viniper Rechargeable Fan : 180° Rotation and 3 Speeds Strong Wind Portable USB Quiet Fan, Optimised Battery & Longer Working Hours, Strong Cooling (6.2 inch, White)

3-This tower fan intrigued me because I own an electric tower fan and use it frequently right over my desk. This one looks as though it could be directed to provide a breeze for two people! Naturally, it’s larger – and costs more.

OPOLAR [2019 New] Cordless Rechargeable Oscillating Tower Fan, 5000mAh Battery Operated Desk Fan, with 3-12H Working Hours, Quick Charge, for Travel, Camping and Outdoor Activities

4-And if you need the reassurance that the fan won’t creep or get knocked over, here’s one with a clip – and 4 speeds.

OPOLAR 10000mAh 8-Inch Rechargeable Battery Operated Clip on Fan, 4 Speeds Fast Air Circulating USB Fan, Sturdy Clamp Portable for Outdoor Camping Tent Golf Cart or Treadmill Personal Office Desk

I have lived through plenty of hot summers, but only experienced one heat-related incident. That was enough to make me serious about being sure it doesn’t happen again. I have my own fans at the ready!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

The incident? I was volunteering at a Rotary Club BBQ fund-raiser, busy managing the baseball toss. Back and forth, pick up the balls, joke with the players, etc. All of a sudden I realized my vision was narrowing, I felt I was going to throw up, and I couldn’t walk without paying VERY close attention. Heat exhaustion! I made it to a bench in the shade and just lay there sipping on a bottle of water, not really moving, and after a half-hour or so felt pretty much back to normal. To this day I remember the hardness of that bench!