While the media is talking about first snow storms in the east, we on the west coast are quietly melting. Triple digits and low humidity are hard on you, can cause dehydration, make it difficult to sleep, and difficult to write. Unless you have central air, which I don’t.
As I type this it’s a raging 103 degrees outside and it feels like my fingertips are fusing to the keyboard. However, I’ve developed some little tricks to stay cool during this hell on earth period:
Cucumber water: You need to stay hydrated and plain water is kind of boring if you ask me, so try this: Cut a cucumber into very thin slices and add them to a ½ gallon pitcher of water, (if you want a little extra zest you can also had thinly slice limes or lemons). Add ice. Stir well with a large spoon. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Then drink as much as you want. Very refreshing.
Fruity iced tea: If you’re an iced tea fan but concerned about too much caffeine, do a half and half with fruit juice. I prefer apple or cranberry. Add lots of ice and lemon slices. It’s refreshing, you don’t need to add extra sugar and you reduce your caffeine intake.
Snacks: Eating during extremely hot weather can also be a challenge because even though you should eat, you may not feel hungry. Cold hard-boiled eggs, cheese and apples, gazpacho, peanut butter and celery sticks, and fruit smoothie protein shakes are all light foods that can provide protein, carbs and fats without weighing you down.
Cell salts/Salt tabs: During hot weather you sweat like the dickens (or if you’re a lady you perspire like the dickens) and lose a lot of trace minerals and salt. Salt & potassium tablets and/or cell salts can help you replenish these. You can purchase either in most drug stores or health food stores.
Darkened rooms are cooler: I don’t have air conditioning at my house, we have what’s called a swamp cooler – which is a system that uses water to cool. Helpful but not nearly as effective as air conditioning. However to get the most out of my cooling system I:
- Draw the curtains first thing in the morning
- Close off any rooms that aren’t being used at that time
- Stand fans in doorways of rooms facing out (this creates a draught of pulling out warm air and pulling cooler air).
Outside fixes: One word – shade cloth. Okay that’s two words but it’s amazing how effective this inexpensive item can in helping to keep your house cooler. It comes in big rolls and can be found in most plant nurseries or stores that provide gardening supplies. You can create ‘sails’ suspend them with bungee cords and hooks. Or if you’re not that handy (like me) You can simply cut a square and tack it up to create a barrier between the sun and your house. For example, at my house the exterior wall of my bedroom is exposed to late afternoon sun. We cut sails from the shade cloth and attached one end to house and the other to the wall, creating a kind of veranda. Doesn’t look good, but works pretty well. I also tacked up a spare piece on the porch rafter, which gets heavy morning sun exposure. Hopefully you get the idea.
Tarp your vehicle. Mine sits in the drive in front of the house and the sun beats down on it all day. The tarp won’t make the car cool but it will protect the paint job, and reduce the amount of heat it absorbs and then radiates.
Keeping the body cool: I waited tables for many years and when you’re runnig around feeding people you can get pretty over –heated – especially if you’re in and out of patios or hot kitchens. As easy way to get quick relief from being overheated is the rub an ice-cube on your pulse points (wrists, side of neck, back of knees). I’m not really sure why it works but it does.
If you sit at a desk while you work, as I do, you can also make an icy foot bath that will help keep you cool. Just fill container large enough to comfortably place your feet, with water, add ice cubes and if you have it some mint.
Australian air conditioning: Okay, I don’t know if this is for real but an Aussie friend of mine told me that down under when the weather is brutally hot, they soak their tee shirts in water, wring them out, put them on and point a fan at themselves. Sound weird? You betcha. But it really works. If you’re not up for wearing a wet tee-shirt you can try a modified version by soaking a hand towel in water, wringing it out and draping it around your neck, then point the fan and turn it on.
What are your tips for staying cool when the weather is brutally hot? Let me know. I’d love some new tips.