How To Avoid Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke When Your AC Goes Down

homeowner suffering from heat stroke and heat exhaustion from broken air conditioner

As per the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), common summertime health hazards include sunburns, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration, and more. For more insight, approximately 1,300 people succumb to fatal heat-related health issues each year (according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency). Thus, being able to keep cool on the hottest days of summer is essential because overheating can result in heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Understanding this, it’s important to make sure that your air conditioner is summer-ready.

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How to Avoid Heat Stroke & Heat Exhaustion When Your Air Conditioner Fails

This article will share a few ways to stay cool if your air conditioning unit stops working during peak summer temperatures. One vital thing to note, however, is that most A/C system problems can be prevented by simply having your home cooling equipment tuned up each year.

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Common Reasons Why Air Conditioners Stop Working

The United States Department of Energy recommends maintaining a thermostat setting of 78 degrees during the summer months. However, heavy thunderstorms may result in a power outage that leaves you without a functional air conditioner unless you have an alternative power source. At other times, air conditioners can fail or stop working due to insufficient maintenance, being overworked, reaching the end of their lifespans, or being too big or too small of the service area.

To prevent issues with your cooling system before they actually arise, be sure to have your air conditioner professional tuned up in late spring, ahead of the actual hot season. Sadly, if your cooling system breaks down, you and everyone else in your home may be subject to heat-related health problems like heat stroke or heat exhaustion. The good news is that you can use the tips below to maintain a safe, comfortable, and ultimately habitable environment despite your cooling system being down.

Call an HVAC Technician In as Soon as Possible


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The very first thing that you should do when you realize that your A/C system isn’t working like it should is to call a local HVAC company. Experienced HVAC technicians can inspect your home cooling equipment to find out what the problem is. Within just several minutes or a few short hours, your air conditioner can be back in action, depending upon how severe the issue happens to be. In the event that you have a serious problem on your hands, it might take several days for your HVAC company to get the necessary parts, replace faulty components, or replace your air conditioner altogether.

Do what you can to keep cool while waiting for the air conditioning to be restored. You should also be mindful of your pets as animals can also develop serious health issues when exposed to excessive heat.

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Keep Hydrated

Your body responds to excess heat by sweating in order to cool itself. According to Pennsylvania State University researchers, if you aren’t replacing the water that you’re losing due to sweating, you’ll eventually become dehydrated. This is actually why dehydration is such a common issue in the summer months. Understanding this, be sure to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water per day to keep hydrated as advised by Harvard Medical School. More often than not, staying hydrated in hot temperatures will help you avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke that would otherwise occur during lot stretches of time spent in excessively high temperatures.

Take a Cold Shower to Cool Down

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Taking a cold shower or two during the day is an easy and yet surprisingly effective way to stay safe and cool on hot days. It removes the burden from your body of having to cool itself down internally. Cold showers are also intensely refreshing and will provide a much-needed sense of relief on any scorching hot day.

Don’t Use Any Heat-Generating Appliances in Your Home

While you work to keep your home cool, be cautious about using appliances that will generate heat. These include:

  • Stoves
  • Ovens
  • Washers
  • Computers
  • Toasters and toaster ovens
  • Dryers

Although these appliances and the heat they produce can come in handy on cold days, you really don’t need them during summer, particularly when your cooling system isn’t working. Understanding this, try not to use them until the A/C is fixed so that they aren’t adding more heat to your living environment.

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Stay in Downstairs Areas

Given that upstairs rooms are closer to your home’s roof, they will naturally be much hotter than downstairs areas during the summer months. It is also important to note that hot air rises to make lower rooms feel a lot cooler than those that are on the top level of the home. Understanding this, try to spend your time downstairs and if you can, in the basement.


Wear Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Even though wearing less is pretty standard during the hot season, National Public Radio asserts that this isn’t a strategy that will help cool you down. It will actually result in more water loss by sweating and evaporation given that more of your skin is exposed. No matter how light or heavy you dress, choose clothes that are made from natural materials like linen or cotton. These fabrics slow down evaporation and have natural wicking properties that help prevent moisture loss. Tight-fitting polyester and nylon clothing will actually increase your body heat.

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Open Windows When Needed

In summer, outside temperatures can remain fairly high both night and day. However, during the evening, there may be a significant drop in temperatures. This is a great time to take advantage of the natural cooling pattern by opening and closing windows throughout your home when needed. You can keep windows open at night to let cool air in and then close them when the sun rises. However, be mindful of the fact that even keeping just one window open on a hot day can heat your entire home within just minutes, especially if this window happens to be on the western side of the home.

Block Out Solar Heat

If you have a large window that gets a lot of direct sunlight, keeping it closed won’t be enough to block out solar heat. Thus, be sure to block sunlight that penetrates the windows by installing heavy blinds or curtains or using a foil covering.



If your air conditioner breaks down during summertime, you should reach out to a reputable HVAC company right away. When waiting for your technician to arrive, take advantage of the tips above to avoid heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses and to keep your home as cool as possible. To prevent HVAC breakdowns, be sure to set up annual HVAC tune-up service. Moreover, make sure that you have the right air conditioner size for your home so that this appliance doesn’t overwork and shorten its lifespan.

Call Townsend Energy For All Of Your HVAC Requirements

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Townsend Energy is the company to contact when you need reliable air conditioner service in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. We are staffed by friendly technicians who are well-trained and well-versed in providing superior workmanship for all air conditioner installations, tune-ups, and repairs. They know how to take care of air conditioners from all of the best-known brands.

When you hire Townsend Energy for air conditioner service, you can rest assured that you’ll always get a fair price. Our maintenance team can help you enjoy higher levels of home comfort and safety, increased efficiency, healthy indoor air quality, and lower summertime cooling costs. When your air conditioner is ready to be replaced, we’ve got you covered. All of the work that we do is covered by our solid satisfaction guarantee. To get started, call us now. We’ll give you a free onsite estimate.

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