Another heat wave is coming—these 9 products will help if you lose power
Don't panic—just prepare for it now
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Extreme summer heat is a drag for everyone. It can make you sweaty, lethargic, and can increase the risk for heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Now, imagine an even scarier scenario—you’re stuck in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave, and then your power goes out, which means no fans, no air conditioning, and potentially no clue what to do next.
Before you freak out at the prospect of an air conditioner-less home on a sweltering summer day, know that there are things you can do to prepare for this dreaded situation, just in case. Certain tips and tricks can help you keep your family cool, even in the throes of soaring temperatures, and these products below can help you stay comfortable while you wait for the power to come back on. Here are nine essentials you don’t need electricity to operate that may help keep you from melting in the meantime.
1. A water bottle
Hydration is key every day, but on hot summer days, it’s mandatory, and if you lose power courtesy of a savage heat wave, you’ll be even more grateful to have one within arm’s reach. While there are many excellent water bottles to choose from, I’m a bit of a brand evangelist for Hydro Flask on account of how well my own does for keeping water cool throughout the day.
When we tested Hydro Flasks here at Reviewed, we found that it was virtually flawless: The brand makes water bottles that are versatile, portable, and feature a special coating, which helps reduce condensation. I own a 32-ounce version in what I like to refer to as “Big Bird yellow,” and in my personal experience, a small but critical feature that helps promote drinkability is the straw-top lid. As someone who loves to sip from straws all the time, having this type of lid coupled with all the other great features Hydro Flasks are known for just makes me even more amped to hit my hydration goals throughout the day. In the summer, that goes double.
Adding ice cubes into your bottle can help ensure your drink will stay chilled, as well. I do it every time I pour a fresh bit of water into my Hydro Flask and have found that ice cubes stay intact for more than eight hours at a stretch.
2. Battery-powered fans
Your power goes out and the first thing you’re bound to notice in a heat wave—aside from your lights—is likely to be the sad sound of your once-buzzing air conditioner or corded fan shutting down. In high temperatures, this can seem like a nightmare scenario, but if you have a few battery-powered fans on-hand, that crisis can feel temporarily averted, at least in the short term.
At HSN, you can snag a two-pack of collapsible, battery-powered fans for under $30. Equipped with a two-speed motor each respectively, these little guys won’t keep your entire house cool, but they’re solid for personal use and designed to be portable, so you can carry them from the kitchen to the living room, and even the back deck if you need to. In addition to running off battery power, these fans can be charged via USB, so if you charge them up ASAP and don’t use them until it’s absolutely necessary, that can be another good way to get extra use out of them.
3. Bedding that’ll stay cool
Sleeping in the heat can be a challenge, and according to the National Sleep Foundation, temperatures over 75 degrees Fahrenheit can cause sleep disruptions—think, tossing and turning, insomnia, or worst of all, waking up drenched in sweat.
If you lose power in the middle of the night, your air conditioner won’t be there to save you. But, here’s the good news: special bedding that’s made to stay cool can provide a much-welcome reprieve. We’re big fans of Casper Hyperlite sheets here at Reviewed, as each set is made with 100 percent Tencel and a unique grid weave for maximum breathability. You can also grab a matching duvet from the brand to go with your sheets, which could promote maximum comfort in the bedroom.
Another stellar investment? A cooling pillow. When we tried the Tempur-Cloud dual breeze pillow, we were impressed with its firmness and cooling functionality, a must for any hot sleeper.
- Get the Casper Hyperlite Sheets at Casper from $109
- Get the Tempur-Cloud Dual Breeze Pillow at Tempur-Pedic from $169
4. Light-colored clothes
When the mercury rises, the last thing you want to be caught in clothing-wise is dark clothing, as it’s known to absorb visible light, which can make you feel sweatier. Rather, light-colored, airy fabrics are a go-to choice for staying cool.
The best white T-shirts for men and women can be worth having on-hand, as can other cooling clothes like skorts, or something like the Outdoor Voices’ exercise dress, which we’ve tested and love, even for times when we’re not working out.
- Get the J.Crew Slim Perfect T-Shirt at J.Crew for $19.50
- Get the Everlane The Premium Weight Crew at Everlane for $40
- Get the Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress at Outdoor Voices for $100
5. Plenty of towels
Fridges and freezers aren’t the only things you should keep closed up if you lose power during a heat wave. The more open doors and windows you have inside, the more likely it is that hot air will seep into your home, making temperatures inside feel all the more uncomfortable.
One easy, electricity-free trick is to keep the doors to any rooms you’re not using completely shut, then use a bath towel to close off the cracks underneath them. This will help prevent heat transfer and keep warmth better contained in those rooms you aren’t using. Once night falls, temperatures tend to cool down, which means it’s the perfect time to remove those towels, open those doors, and pull the windows open, too—this will allow cool air back into your abode.
Another reason to invest in extra towels during the summertime is that they can help pets. Specifically, a wet towel can also be used on pets during heat waves if you’re concerned that your dog or cat might be overheating. Using cold water, soak your towel, give it a wring, and then pat down your four-legged pal for some instant cooling goodness they’re sure to appreciate. (You can use a separate towel to do this for yourself and keep cool that way, too.)
6. Blackout curtains
Keeping doors and windows closed up if you lose power during the summertime can be an effective way to stay cooler when you’re inside. Another way to minimize the amount of light and heat indoors is to invest in a good set of blackout curtains, as they’re great for keeping the sun’s rays out.
While there are many places to buy curtains online, one of the best budget-friendly stores is Walmart, especially if you just want something basic or you have a lot of windows you need to get panels for. The Eclipse Samara set at the rollback retailer is available in a variety of sizes and colors, and prices start from $9.99. More than 7,500 Walmart shoppers have helped give this line a 4.2-star rating, and reviewers say they’re made from super-thick material, arrived wrinkle-free, and had solid insulating functionality.
7. A charcoal grill
Even when the electricity is on, no one wants to be slaving over a hot stove during a heat wave (or cooking at all, if we’re being real here). But when it comes to making nutritious meals for your family, you need to do something during the summertime, and outdoor grills can be a solid alternative to your everyday oven. Even better, it won’t leave your whole house feeling stuffier after you’re done cooking, either.
While gas grills are impressive, offering instant, even heating and temperature control, I’m personally more of a fan of charcoal grills on account of the extra oomph of flavor you can get from cooking with those smoky briquettes.
The Napoleon NK22K-LEG-2 is the best one we’ve tested here on account of how sturdy it is, as well as its wide, convex dome, which allows for more even heat distribution, and vent system, which promotes precise airflow control. We also found that it was able to hold up to 13 burgers at a time, so there was plenty of room for grilling on this model.
8. An above-ground pool
Feeling all hot and sticky on a sweltering hot summer day? An above-ground pool could be the perfect place to be, especially if you’re hesitant about the cost or potential insurance headaches that come with installing an in-ground pool.
Built to operate the same way an above-ground pool with filtration would, the 4.1-star rated Intex Easy Set Pool is a great starter pick that’s available in a range of sizes, with the smallest coming in at 6 feet by 20 inches and options going up to 12 feet by 30 inches. This model has more than 13,000 positive reviews on Amazon, with shoppers reveling in its durability and one regarding it as “the best summer purchase ever.”
With this particular above-ground pool, be sure to grab a filter pump to go along with it (for those times when the electricity is back on). The Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump features an auto-shutoff, and more than 10,000 happy Amazon customers have helped give it a 4.3-star rating on the site on account of its affordability and ease of use.
- Get an Intex Easy Set Pool at Amazon from $37.99
- Get the Intex Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump at Amazon for $90.46
9. A backup generator
Generators occupy a near mythical place in the minds of many homeowners. On the one hand, they seem like the ultimate security blanket: These devices are designed to keep your electricity running in the event of an outage, and who doesn’t love that idea?
However, experts will tell you that generators aren’t so easy to just have around. First, it’s important to understand there’s more than one type. Portable generators, which are the more affordable type to go with, are perfect for on-the-go use and typically run on gasoline, although some models may require liquid propane, natural gas, or diesel fuel. Inverter generators are similar to portable generators (and are also portable), but tend to run on gas or propane, and are often used for camping trips. Either one can be used at home, but need to be set up and used outdoors (never under any circumstances use one inside your house or garage) to function, and they won’t keep every appliance running.
Conversely, a standby generator—which are those big models you tend to see outside a house or building, often on a concrete slab—_can_ keep your whole house running and will trigger on immediately if the power goes out, but they’re extremely expensive. You also need to have one professionally installed, so simply buying a unit alone won’t do the trick.
Investing in a backup generator of any type can be worthwhile to look into if you’re worried about your electricity during a heat wave and you want to prevent major disruptions stemming from a power outage, but as always, do your due diligence before you grab one.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.