There’s plenty of advice about how to keep cool and beat the heat. Today, I’d like to give you some lesser known tips to keep cool when the world outside is deep-fried insanity. Take it from a lifelong southerner: we know hacks to keep our cool when the world around us is cooking. For example:
Darkening curtains. HVAC units are designed to function in the range of outdoor temperatures of 30 – 95 degrees. Outside of that range, they’ll struggle, perhaps as much as 3-5 degrees. You can still be comfortable in this range, but it means that it will take longer to cool once the sun sets. Darkening curtains can help with this differential, especially in rooms that get midday and late afternoon sun.
Use fans. I recently spoke to an HVAC technician who said the best thing you can do is give your unit an assist with fans. Ceiling fans are good because they can help to reduce the humidity, which means you feel cooler. Cooking and showering also generates heat and humidity, and those exhaust fans over our stove and in bathrooms can help ease the heat and humidity as well.
Cut back on heat generating activities between 5-7 p.m. This is actually the time where activity on the electrical grid is highest, so it puts more strain on the system. Try to limit things like cooking and running dryers during these hours. Plus, it’s also the hottest part of the day. You may also want to open your garage door to ventilate it during these days, or even run a fan to circulate the hot air out of that area. As far as means, try to stick with ones that cook faster and implement fresh fruits and vegetables that can be served cold. Now is not the time to recreate a huge meal for “Christmas in June.” Go with seasonal fare.
Wear sandals. Southern girls grow up knowing this trick: how your feet feel affect your entire body. Dumping socks on the hottest days goes a long way in keeping you cooler. (Conversely, wearing them when it’s cold will keep you warmer). There are plenty of nice summer shoes that you can wear sans-socks. Invest in them. Believe me, it’s an investment in yourself and your own comfort.
Park in the shade. The temperature on asphalt and concrete can be up to 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. That can be particularly brutal when you get off work at 5:00 and the temperature is 100+ degrees with a heat index of 110. Help yourself and your car by parking in a spot that gets midday and late afternoon shade. Using a windshield shade and cracking your windows slightly can also keep your car from feeling like an oven after work.
Slow down. Our stress hormones rise with the thermometer, and often we don’t realize it until we embarrass ourselves with an angry outburst. It takes a lot of self-awareness to understand how triggers are creating stress between our minds and bodies. Heat is often the first trigger, so we need to be mindful and slow down to make sure that we’re staying on the track that we want. This article gives helpful tips to manage anger in the hot weather. In addition to identifying triggers, I’d also encourage you to slow down, and be more aware of taking care of your mental and physical health, especially when it comes to relaxation techniques that work for you.
Don’t poke or pick up sticks. There are three things I don’t like: live snakes, dead snakes, and sticks that look like snakes. That stick might not be a stick. This tip won’t keep you cool, but it will keep you safe. And sane, because that would be an unpleasant discovery indeed that will raise your stress and lead to problems that nobody has time for.
Above all, I urge you to use common sense. Stay hydrated, stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, and etc. These heat waves pass too. Hang in there. We’ll make it, and we'll appreciate fall more too.
That’s all today. Take care and stay cool. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a wonderful weekend.