When temperatures hit triple digits, baking in the sun isn’t a lot of fun (even by the pool). The air feels less like a sun beam and more like a sauna! When the outdoors are too hot to handle, we know we can retreat indoors and bask under the easy breeze of a well-running AC unit.

But if your air conditioning stops working?

This time of year, temperatures are record high and the risk of heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke becomes a pressing concern. And when you can’t escape from heat, you increase your chances of suffering a heat-related injury.

Understanding the Risks of Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a severe form of hyperthermia that occurs when the body overheats and cannot cool down effectively, leading to potential damage to the brain and other vital organs. Symptoms can include high body temperature, altered mental state, nausea, and even loss of consciousness. The elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable during a heat wave. It's imperative to recognize the dangers of being without air conditioning during these times and take proactive measures to maintain a safe indoor climate.

The Role of HVAC Servicing in Preventing Heat-Related Emergencies

Regular servicing of your HVAC system is necessary for its efficiency and reliability, especially during periods of intense heat. A well-maintained air conditioner can be the difference between comfort and a heat-induced emergency.

Read more about our servicing, repairs, and replacement options.

Identifying Common AC Issues

During a heat wave, an AC unit can face several challenges that may hinder its performance. Common issues include:

  • Units not turning on, which could be due to electrical issues or a malfunctioning thermostat.
  • Refrigerant leaks, which can reduce the efficiency of the unit and cause harm to the environment.
  • Sensor problems, leading to erratic behavior and inefficient cooling.
  • Drainage issues, particularly in humid climates, which can cause water damage and affect indoor air quality. Backed up drains can also trip the drain safety switch and shut the cooling down. It may turn the system off all together or just the cooling unit. The fan may continue to run but the outdoor unit will be off.
  • Constant running without adequate cooling, indicating potential compressor or airflow problems.
  • Unpleasant smells, which could be a sign of mold or bacteria buildup in the system.
  • High energy bills, often a symptom of an inefficient or aging unit in need of maintenance or replacement.

Addressing these issues promptly can help prevent further damage and ensure your safety during extreme temperatures.

Emergency Services Can Be Your Safety Net

When the heat becomes unbearable, and your HVAC system fails, it/s not just your comfort on the line, it's your health.

Heatstroke is a severe heat-related illness that can occur when the body is unable to regulate its temperature, leading to a rapid rise in core body temperature. Recognizing the signs of heatstroke is critical and includes symptoms such as:

  • A core body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher, typically obtained with a rectal thermometer
  • Altered mental state or behavior, such as confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures, and even coma
  • Skin that feels hot and dry to the touch, or slightly moist, depending on the cause
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing

Statistics indicate that heat-related illnesses, including heatstroke, are among the most dangerous consequences of extreme heat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heatstroke led to an average of 702 heat-related deaths in the United States annually from 2004 to 2018. This underscores the importance of reliable air conditioning during peak temperatures to prevent such life-threatening conditions.

What's the Storm Got to Do with It?

However, it's not just the heat waves themselves that pose a threat to your HVAC system; hurricanes and tropical storms can also have a significant impact. Tropical Storm Alberto, for example, has been causing heavy rainfall and flooding in South Texas. While the cloud cover and precipitation can offer temporary relief from the heat, the accompanying high winds and potential power outages can disrupt your HVAC system's functionality when you need it most.

Moreover, these storms can draw tropical moisture northward, leading to scattered showers and thunderstorms that may temporarily affect heat levels. It is crucial to ensure your HVAC system is in top condition to withstand these unpredictable weather patterns.

Stay Informed and Prepared

Staying informed about the heat risks in your area and preparing for extreme weather conditions is essential. Ensure your HVAC system is inspected and serviced regularly, and don't hesitate to seek professional help if you notice any signs of malfunction. Remember, during a heat wave, your HVAC system isn't just about comfort—it's about safety.

To learn more about protecting yourself and your loved ones from heatstroke and to schedule a service with our skilled team, visit One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning or call us at (800) 893-3523. Your comfort is our priority, and we're here to provide peace of mind with our expert HVAC services.

For more information on weather conditions and safety tips, visit the National Weather Service at weather.gov.