Staying Cool in a Heat Wave

A lot of Americans are suffering through a heatwave that is set to continue for quite some time. So many people look forward to the summer. It’s a time for picnics, sharing refreshing drinks in the shade and generally spending time together outdoors. But, when a heatwave hits, it can be too hot to spend time outside comfortably. And, this year, many of us have to stay away from our family and friends because of health concerns or local restrictions.

So, how do you beat the heat? The first, most obvious way is air conditioning. However, AC is expensive to run, and many of us don’t have it. But, when AC isn’t an option, there are other go-to solutions.

First, and foremost: cold food and drinks. Staying hydrated keeps you cool, so be sure to drink plenty of ice water. That step alone can help you manage the heat. Embrace salads and other non-cook food. Avoid meat as your body warms up to digest it. If you want a hot meal, don’t want to heat up your kitchen and can’t stand the idea of lighting the grill, turn to your microwave. Or, use a slow cooker outside your door with an extension cord.

Another thing you can do is spend time at the lowest point in your house. Hot air rises so, if you live in a multistory house, consider sleeping downstairs. One of our team members lives in a fourth-floor apartment without air conditioning, and it can reach 90 degrees when it’s 75 outside.  

We also like at-home cooling options. Most of us don’t have a pool. And many public pools are closed. But, if you have a bathtub, you can spend time in cool water. If you don’t have a bathtub, consider putting cold water in a basin and putting your feet in. You can cool your blood at your pulse points in your ankles and chill the rest of you. That trick also works on washing your hands in cold water. Also, ice packs or a towel that’s damp with cool water can be a delight when draped around your neck. If you have a sprinkler system, now is the time to embrace your inner child and go stand in the crisp “rain.”

If you don’t want to get wet, you can use plastic re-freezable ice cubes wrapped in a paper towel or dishcloth. One person on our team has been using the same plastic ice cubes for over a decade! While we usually think of fans as a way to blow air at us, pointing a fan at a window and force hot air out of your home. Another trick that predates air conditioning is putting ice in front of a fan and pointing it at yourself. It cools the air and blows it at you. However, that does increase the humidity in the room. If your house is already too damp, consider using plastic ice cubes or frozen water bottles, they can cool the fan’s breeze without adding any moisture to the room.

Ditch your layers. If you are at home without company, you can strip down to your underwear to stay cool. If you have to go out, be sure to wear loose cotton. Cotton is breathable to let your skin get more air and your sweat to evaporate. It’s also best to wear clothes that are light colors as darker shades can absorb heat from the sun.  

Run your washing machine, dishwasher or dryer at night when it cools off, so you don’t add extra heat to your home when it’s already too warm. In many areas, electricity is cheaper in the evening. So, if you’re running the AC, it can be a small way to save a little money.

Using these tips can help you stay cool and comfortable during the heatwave and throughout this summer. It’s unfortunate to have a heatwave during a time most of us can’t escape to the mall or movie theater. But, if you think about your actions, it is possible to stave off the heat!
July 20, 2020

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