KEEP YOUR COOL
If you are
wondering how to “keep your cool,” during the occasional heat wave,
without air conditioners or other expensive devices, these tips may
Close your windows in the
morning, generally before 9 AM, or as soon as the outside temperature
begins to exceed the temperature inside your house. Cover
each window with a shade or blind, or even make-shift protection to cut
down on solar heat gain. Open your windows at night to capture the
cooler night air. Buy fans to circulate the air in your house
during the day and to draw cool air inside at night. Let some
of that air blow on you too!
OTHER HOUSE TIPS:
Turn off and unplug any
appliances not in use which may be giving off heat. This
might include your computer, your television set, and lamps
with little power boxes. If you can feel any heat coming from
a device, unplug it. Don’t turn on any lights unless you need
them, and if you do, use fluorescent fixtures. Let kitchen
and bath exhaust fans vent hot air to the outside. Run your
dishwasher at night.
WHAT TO WEAR:
Wear loose fitting clothing
made with comfortable materials. Experts often recommend
cotton or linen for hot weather. But you might also try some
of the new fitness clothing which wicks moisture away from the
body. Try to avoid outside activity, especially during the
hottest part of the day, but if you must, wear light colors, put on a
hat, and try to stay in the shade. Now is the time to get
your hair cut short and let it hang loose so as not to hold in any
extra heat around your head.
Try to figure out some ways
for the whole family to sleep on the first floor during a heat wave
even if the bedrooms are on the second floor. The floor is
probably the coolest spot if you can figure out a way to cushion your
body without also making it hotter.
Eat lightly with an emphasis
on foods which have high water content. Fruits and salads
fill the bill here. Your body creates heat when digesting
protein, so stay away from those big hot meals. If you need
to cook, use the microwave or an outside grill, not your
oven. This might be the perfect time to splurge on carry-out
from a favorite restaurant or convenience food from the supermarket.
Dehydration can easily
accompany high temperatures and this is where the elderly and the very
young sometimes get into trouble with heat related problems.
If you take only one piece of information away from these hints, take
this one: Drink water and drink it all day long. Do not drink
anything with alcohol or caffeine in it. These both have a
diuretic effect on the body, and may leave you dehydrated.
Postpone necessary heat
generating activities until temperatures are at their lowest: generally
from four to seven AM. That may be too ambitious but you can
still try to time your chores for morning or evening. Be as
lazy as you can, and if you are home, consider a siesta from 3-4 PM
which is when the daily temperature generally peaks. If
“lazy” freaks you out, there are still productive things you can do all
while being a couch potato. Here are a few
examples: get an early start on your annual holiday letter,
catch up on e-mail, sort out photographs, pay your bills, plan and make
arrangements for your next vacation. Or telephone friends, shop on the
internet, read a book, or research a big purchase.
If possible, spend time where
it is air conditioned or known to be cool. Typical places are
movie theaters, malls, libraries, and restaurants. Go
swimming or try hanging out under a big shade tree. Some
people swear by their personal water-spritzing bottles and even a
little hand fan can bring some relief. Making a hand fan is a
perfect small art project for the kids on a hot day. In your
own home, go barefoot and put cold things next to your body like
wrapped frozen gel packs, or cold, wet washcloths. Take a
seriously frigid shower; make sure you wet your hair too.
Your young children might enjoy an afternoon in the tub with cool water
and some appropriate toys.
CHECK ON OTHERS:
While we may have little
energy during very hot weather, find enough to check on your elderly
neighbors and relatives to make sure that they are all right and
drinking enough fluids.
Try not to be frustrated by
what you can’t do or how uncomfortable you are. Here is why:
Heat waves don’t last. For now, you have a perfect excuse to
be a slacker and perhaps even the inspiration to make some changes in
your life. Take full advantage of the situation.
Before you know it, winter will be on its way and you will be looking
for tips on how to stay warm.
More useful and interesting articles from Linda Byard:
Driving in the UK
Take your life in your hands
Transatlantic Journey - Surviving Long Flights
Keeping Cool - How to survive
in the Summer Heat Wave
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