Growing up in Phoenix, you would think I would have become accustomed to that city’s God awful heat, but the truth is, I never did. Every single summer I found myself hunkering down indoors and scurrying from one air-conditioned building to the next. After I married and had kids, I noticed how quickly my kids over-heated when they played outdoors and began learning how to mitigate the effects of heat while enjoying school-free days.
A heat wave is about as predictable in the summer as the presence of watermelon at farmer’s markets. If you live in an area that doesn’t usually experience high temperatures, you may find yourself and your family in danger of heatstroke. As a lifelong desert rat, here are a few tips to help you stay cool, or as cool as possible when summer heat soars.
- Make ample use of every type of fan you own. Ceiling fans are a must, just be sure the fan blades are turning counter-clockwise, which blows the air downward.
- Turn off your fans when you leave home. Circulating air is meant to help keep your body cool. When no one is in the room, electricity is being wasted.
- If your home or apartment doesn’t have air conditioning, keep spray bottles filled with water handy. It’s amazing how a spritz of water on your face will help you feel cooler.
- Here’s an old trick I learned when I lived on a kibbutz. Just before bedtime, spritz your bedsheets with plenty of water, aim an electric fan toward your side of the bed, jump in and go to sleep, quickly!
- If you don’t yet own a few battery-powered fans, hurry over to Amazon and pick up at least one or two. I bought one small fan (this size) for each member of my family. My thinking is that we should each be able to have our own fan and not have to share its cooling breeze with anyone.
- Use other people’s air conditioning! A few summers ago when our house was being renovated, the kids and I spent dozens of hours at the library, at Chick-fil-A and at Starbucks (they both have Wi-Fi!). Sometimes we’d go to the mall, but that was too dangerous to our budget. If you have friends and family who enjoy your company, pay them a visit.
- Soak in a tub filled with cool water. This will cool down your core better than a shower will.
- Wear your bathing suit around the house.
- If you’ll be outside, wet down a bandanna, place a few ice cubs down the center, diagonally, roll it up, and tie it around your neck.
- If the mornings are cool, open all your windows, let that cool air flow through your home, and then close them up as soon as the heat sets in. At that point, close your curtains, shades, or shutters. I love a bright, sunlit home, but in the summer, this works for me.
- Check the western exposure of your home. If you have windows that face west, check into inexpensive blinds from Home Depot or Lowe’s. Even, gasp!, aluminum foil taped over your windows, temporarily!, can help keep your home cooler.
- Watch the landscape workers in your town. You’ll find they always wear wide-brimmed hats, long sleeved shirts, and long pants. They know what they’re doing. It sounds counter-intuitive, but that extra fabric will protect your skin from the sun.
- If you need to do outside chores, do them in morning when the sun rises.
- Young children and the elderly are more susceptible to heatstroke. Pay careful attention to their needs. Check on elderly friends and relatives. In the great Chicago heatwave of 1995, hundreds of people died in less than a week. Most of them were elderly.
- If you must, douse your naked body with water and stand in front of a fan.
- Finally, think like a SurvivalMom. What can you do to prepare for the next heatwave?