It’s summer, and that means it’s hot – pretty simple, right? It would be great if you could curl up inside an air-conditioned building and wait it out, but the odds of that working out are pretty slim. So, what can you do to beat the heat this summer?
Dress for the Dog Days
- Switch to natural, breathable fabrics like 100 percent cotton. Save the silk and polyester for October when the weather lets you feel human again.
- On the subject of fabric – skip the fabric softener. While it makes your clothes softer and helps eliminate static cling, it does it by coating the strands of the cloth, which means it doesn’t breathe.
- Forget about style and go for comfort and function. Jewelry may finish an outfit, but it’s an added layer that traps heat; if you’re going to be out in the heat, leave the necklaces, scarves, and bracelets at home. Long hair? Pull it up and out of the way; a messy bun is better than heat stroke!
- Go for loose clothing in light colors; whites, pastels and similar lighter colors reflect the sunlight, making them cooler. Remember that sexy black car in July? The same principle applies to clothes.
- Wear a hat if you have to be in the sun; it provides carry-it-with-you shade that is cooling.
Eat and Drink for the Heat
- Stay hydrated. Keep a bottle or two of water in the freezer and grab them as you leave the house. They’ll come in handy for cooling pulse points, and they’ll provide cold water throughout the day. Hate to drink water? Try infusing it with fruit or with fresh mint leaves. Add a thinly sliced orange, lemon, and cucumber to a pitcher; toss in some strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, and then fill the pitcher with cold water. Let it chill for 2 to 3 hours and then enjoy.
- Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, or high-sugar drinks. They all promote dehydration.
- Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Aim for 16 to 32 ounces per hour when you’re out in the heat. Use an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink the water, if that’s what it takes.
- Go for several small, light meals instead of larger, heavier ones. Focus on cold fruit, low-fat dairy, and salads over meats and bread. Not only do they not raise your core temperature as much, they are mostly water, so they keep you hydrated.
- As counter-intuitive as it seems, eat more spicy foods. They make you sweat more, which help you cool down.
- Go for cool, but not ice-cold drinks; the extreme contrast can be dangerous. Start with a drink that is slightly cooler than room temperature and gradually go colder if you’re feeling overheated
Tricks to Beat the Heat
- Stay out of direct sunlight and stake out the shade. It seems obvious, but it’s often overlooked as a simple way to stay cooler.
- Chill your cheeks and the soles of your feet with ice packs or cooling sprays. Both contain blood vessels that don’t contract when they’re cold, so you’ll lose up to 50 percent more body heat faster than when you use cold compresses in other places.
- Don’t skip those other places, though; cold compresses on the pulse points, like wrists, ankles, and the backs of knees help you cool down.
- Make a cooling spray to keep with you; mist your face or the soles of your feet with it. For the simplest version, add three to five drops of peppermint essential oil to a small spray bottle and fill the bottle with water. Or, mix 3 tablespoons each aloe vera gel and witch hazel with four or five drops of peppermint oil. If you have dry skin, substitute aloe vera juice for the gel and leave out the witch hazel.
- Store your lotions and skin toners in the refrigerator for a quick cool-down.
- Slip into a cool or tepid bath or shower.
- Put your sheets into a plastic bag and pop them into the freezer for a couple of hours before making the bed right before retiring for the night.
- Still hot, even with the air conditioning running? Place a bowl of ice or a frozen bottle of water in front of a desk fan.
- Fill a sock with rice and put it in the freezer. Place it under the soles of your feet or behind your knees to pull the heat from your body. Add a couple of them between the sheets to cool the bed down before you crawl in.
Know the Warning Signs of Heatstroke
Even with these tips, it’s good to recognize the symptoms of heat stroke; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 618 Americans die from heat stroke every year. If you or someone with you exhibits these symptoms, call 9-1-1 at once:
- Absence of sweating
- Severe headache
- Hot-to-touch skin
- Rapid pulse rate
Be safe, be smart, and be cool – with these tips for beating the heat, you’ll be able to enjoy your summer.