Fortunately, 100+ degree weather isn't too strange to us around these parts. Truth be told, this year's heat wave came late, considering that we were breaking the century mark in May and early June over the past couple of years. So naturally we know what to do when it gets hot. The weather forecasters have given you their tips: Stay indoors, wear light colored clothing, limit exercise, stay hydrated, limit or avoid alcohol intake - these are all great tips. But I have a few more that I've picked up over the years that might not only help you keep cool, but keep those power bills from shooting up with the mercury in the thermemoter:
1. Keep your blinds/shades closed, and if you have curtains, close them. A lot of people raised their eyebrows at us when we put up dark colored panels in our master bedroom and the other front rooms in our house, until the next summer when they saw how good those dark panels are at keeping heat out and cool in.
2. Electronics and appliances put off a lot of heat, so you might want to limit use of them. The biggest culprits are ovens, dryers, and computers. Consider preparing meals that take a bit less time in the oven or on the stovetop. Only run full loads of laundry and dishes. Use cooling mats for laptops. Consider skipping the surround sound system when you watch television during the day at least.
3. Use fans, but only in rooms that you're in. Fans work to help evaporate moisture in your skin as well as to circulate air, which means they don't do much good if you aren't in the room with them. So only use fans in the rooms you're using.
4. Turn off the lights! Only turn on lights in rooms you're in, and try to use as few as possible. You might think a light bulb can't put off much heat, until you try to change one that was just on. Yea, those suckers can indeed get hot.
5. Those sun shades you see in cars might not look extremely fashionable, but they work. If you park outside for any length of time at all, get one and use it. Also, crack your windows or open your sun room to let air circulate and prevent your car from becoming a sauna (and potentially busting a window, which can happen if too much hot air gets trapped in there and can't get out).
6. Stick to indoor activities. I know it's tempting to head for the pool or the water park on extremely hot days, but that fun in the sun can wear you out. Consider seeing a movie or heading to an indoor shopping complex instead. Or better yet, just stay home. Read a book, do arts and craft projects, play a game, watch a DVD and make microwave popcorn, call a friend on the telephone - just stay in the AC.
7. Skip the sneakers and socks. Wear sandals or slide on shoes that you can wear without socks. And put baby powder on your feet to keep them dry and cool. If your feet are cool, it will be easier for you to cool off. I'm not sure why this is, but someone gave me this tip in high school and it works. It also works in reverse too - when it gets extremely cold this winter, put away the flip flops and put on socks.
8. Consider cool meals and snacks. Salads, ice cream, popcicles, watermelon, pineapple, cantelope - you can even stick apples in the refridgerator and they make good, cool snacks.
9. Take it slower. When the nighttime lows are above 70 degrees, it doesn't give your body or the environment time to rebound. That means that you're more prone to exhaustion and heat related problems. Your body is busy enough trying to stay cool, so what you normally do could put more strain on you than you realize. This is why the meterologists tell you to make sure you stay hydrated and to limit exercise when it gets extremely hot. I usually cut back my treadmill time and try to space out my housework more so I'm not pushing myself as hard as I usually do when it gets extremely hot. Likewise, you might want to try to get more sleep too.
10. I know you've been told this, but PLEASE bring in your pets and make sure they have plenty of cool, fresh water. If you're hot, imagine how they feel with feather/fur coats on! And animals can't sweat to cool off, so they usually have to adapt in other ways like drinking more or immercing themselves in water. Come to think of it, Chloe wasn't as disagreeable about her shower tonight as she usually is and she isn't pouting as much either ...
So there are a few more tips from a native southerner on how to adapt to the heat. Because I don't care what they say - you can't really beat it. I've tried for almost 37 years anyway and I obviously haven't won that battle or we all wouldn't be cooking these days. But I've learned to adapt, and I hope sharing some of what I've learned can help you adapt as well.
Happy Friday to you. Have a great weekend.