Whether you live in an area with dry heat or one with “the three h’s” — hazy, hot, and humid — what you really, really want is to be cool. Excessive summer heat can become uncomfortable. It also is easy to become overheated in the summer, and that can be dangerous. It’s important to stay cool, and to know how to cool down fast when needed. Here are five tips to help you beat the summer heat.
The same steps that keep warm air inside in the winter keep hot air outside in the summer. Have your duct pipes cleaned and your air conditioner serviced in the spring. Seal all the places where pipes, lighting fixtures, and wires pass from the main part of the house to the attic and from the outside of the house to the inside. Make sure that your attic has the proper amount of insulation for your area. Seal doors and windows with weather-stripping, and close blinds, shades, or drapes during the day. Hanging insulated drapes also keeps out the heat.
Install a whole house fan, preferably in a window for a central hallway in a two story home or an attic window in a story and a half home. After keeping the house closed up during the day, if your neighborhood is safe enough, open the doors and windows at night and turn on the fan to draw the hot air out of the house and draw the cooler night air inside. If the night air is still hot, hanging damp towels in front of your open windows will cool it. Draping a damp towel over a floor or window fan also works.
Cool Fan Tricks
Use fans along with your air conditioner, and you won’t feel the need to run the air conditioner as much. Your body cools itself as perspiration evaporates from your skin. Fans move air across your skin, helping more perspiration to evaporate faster. A desk fan will work, too, and you can freeze water in plastic water or soft drink bottles and sit them in front of a desk or floor fan to create a cooler breeze. Run ceiling fans counterclockwise in the summer.
Looser fitting clothes and natural, breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen allow air to flow closer to you skin. Loosely tailored styles work perfectly for office wear. Natural fabrics and those synthetic ones that wick away moisture help your body stay cool, even on muggy days when there is so much humidity that perspiration doesn’t readily evaporate.
Men may think it’s best to go without an undershirt on a hot, muggy day, but undershirts like UnderFit undershirts are made of a soft, slightly stretchy synthetic fabric that not only wicks away moisture but also resists odor.
You need your sleep, but a hot summer night can make getting any sleep almost impossible. Try cooling your mattress by freezing rice in socks and placing the socks or soft gel ice packs under your sheets where they will be under your neck, lower back, or legs. You can also place your pillow cases and sheets in plastic bags and place them in the freezer a few hours before you plan to go to bed. Make your bed right before your bedtime.
You can feel cooler in the summer by acclimating yourself to the heat. Put on your sunscreen and spend 100 minutes outdoors for four to 10 days in a row. Your body also responds to aerobic training in a way that is similar to acclimation. Both lower your resting core temperature so that it takes longer for your body to reach dangerous internal temperatures when exposed to extreme heat in the summer.
If you are outside and you need to cool down, look for a grassy area, especially one that is in the shade. Plants draw moisture in through their roots and release it through their leaves, creating the same evaporative cooling effect that your body uses.
If you feel you have become overheated, rest for a minimum of 15 minutes. Even after you’re sitting in the shade, your core body temperature will continue to rise before it begins to go back down. It will also take some time for your internal temperature to decrease.
If you need to cool down fast, put a cold compress, such as a towel that has been wrapped around some ice cubes or run under cold water and wrung out, on top of your head or on your pulse points — the back of your neck, your wrists or ankles, or the backs of your knees or the insides of your elbows. Because your forearms have such a large surface area of exposed skin, you can also plunge your forearms into ice water up to your elbows.
If you have lost electrolytes, try orange juice or milk if you prefer those to sports drinks.
Summer is supposed to be a time for outdoor fun. Here’s hoping that these heat-beating tips make eveng those excessively hot days more enjoyable.