Temperatures in Asia, North America, and Europe have been soaring for the past few weeks, and there’s little relief in sight. Heatwaves can be dangerous, but there are ways to keep yourself and your family cool during record-breaking temperature spikes.
Become a fan of fans
Ceiling fans and box fans are the ultimate tools for keeping your home cool if you don’t have an air conditioning system. Putting a box fan in a window at night and pointing it outdoors can act as an exhaust system that blows warmer air outside and allows cooler night time air to enter the home. Ceiling fans help circulate air in your home as well, preventing cooler air from getting stuck near the ground.
Hot air rises, which means that upper levels of your home are more likely to be warmer. Ground levels and even basements can be a good reprieve to the summer heat. If the option is available, create a temporary bedroom on a lower level of your home to help keep cool while you sleep.
Soak your feet
Cold water is your friend during heat waves. One easy way to cool off is by filling a bucket or basin with cold water and dipping your feet. Cooling one part of your body helps cool off the rest of you. Cold showers and baths have the same effect. If a bucket won’t work for you, a wet towel or bandana worn on the shoulders or head can cool you as well.
Unplug heat sources
Electronics and lighting can create excess heat. For example, 90% of the energy used in an incandescent light bulb is emitted as heat instead of light. The surface temperature of one of these bulbs can be as high as 250 degrees! Especially during the day, try to keep your lights off. Electronics also produce heat, even when not in use. Consider using a powerstrip to easily shut off electronics when not in use.
Go for a swim
Going for a swim can definitely help cool you off on especially hot days. Most cities have public pools, and even some private pools and gyms have day passes that you can inexpensively purchase. If all else fails, check around to see if anyone knows about cool outdoor swimming holes.
Head to the library
If you really need a break from the stifling heat, public buildings usually have air conditioning. Plan a trip to the library to do a little bit of reading, or head to the grocery store during the hottest part of the day. This can be especially important on days where heat is approaching dangerous highs.
Make your own AC
Making your own air conditioner isn’t particularly difficult. It’s as simple as putting a fan in front of a bowl of ice water. As it passes over the cool surface of the ice water, the air also cools down, which helps reduce the temperature of a room. For added effect, point the fan directly at yourself to maximize the impact!
It’s easy to become dehydrated in the summer. It’s important to keep drinking adequate amounts of water. Water helps your body maintain healthy internal temperatures and stay cool. If you’re sweating a lot, it may be important to replenish your electrolytes with an electrolyte replacement beverage. There are a number of electrolyte powders on the market too. Sugar free options are definitely available.
Avoid alcohol and coffee
Cracking a cold beer or grabbing an iced coffee on a hot day might sound enticing, but beverages like coffee and alcohol can cause dehydration. Both are diuretics, which accelerate the removal of water from the body. These kinds of drinks can do more harm than good on very warm days.
Know the signs of heat illnesses
Staying cool on a hot day can be difficult and frustrating, but it’s also important to remember that heat waves can pose a danger to your health. Excessive heat warnings can be issued if the heat index, which is a number that expresses how hot it feels when you combine heat and humidity, reaches above 105 °F. For some, even temperatures over 90 degrees can be dangerous.
Because of this, it’s important to know the signs of heat related illnesses. Below is a handy guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to various heat illnesses.
Don’t forget about your pets!
People aren’t the only ones who suffer when the temperatures rise. Animals can as well. Keeping animals like dogs, cats, and rabbits cool can save their lives. Giving a dog a cool bath can help lower their internal temperatures. It’s generally not advised that you bathe cats or rabbits. Cold water can also help animals that might be experiencing the adverse effects of heat.
Signs of heat stroke in animals can include rapid panting, drooling, warm or hot skin, vomiting, muscle twitching, wide eyes, and general disorientation.