Keeping Your Cool: Tips to Help Beat the Heat

As the temperatures across the country continue to soar, my plans to spend the weekend visiting yard sales have given way to dreams of simpler projects, ones that can be accomplished within the confines of my air-conditioned apartment. Thankfully I always have a long to-do list of things that can be accomplished without setting foot outside; usually reserved for the winter months, this list will be making an appearance this weekend. With little relief from the high temperatures in sight, most experts are urging folks to stay indoors as much as possible until this heat wave breaks.For those of us with AC, that instruction is an easy one to follow. If you don't have AC, or if your AC breaks, try to make it to a public space that does have AC like a library or shopping center. Many jurisdictions have cooling centers that they open when temperatures soar – check your municipal government website for more information (for DC that information can be found here).

If you can't get to an air conditioned space, try taking a cool bath; cold water cools the body faster than cold air. For anyone relying on fans to keep cool, place a bowl of ice in front of the fan and then sit close enough to enjoy your own makeshift AC. If you have to go out, cover up; sunscreen, hats, umbrellas- all can help make the difference in keeping you from dangerously overheating.

Try to avoid hot foods as these help raise your body temperature; this is the perfect time to experiment with all those salad recipes you've been collecting. If you absolutely have to have a cooked meal, for those of you with a grill, braving the heat for long enough to cook dinner outside will help keep it cooler indoors than if you use your oven.

Remember that seniors, children, and pets are particularly to extreme temperatures. Take the time to check on your neighbors, maybe offer to run to the grocery store for seniors or families with young children to help them avoid exposure to the heat. Make sure your pets have access to plenty of water and exercise them moderately, preferable during the cooler part of the day.

Make sure you and everyone around you drinks a LOT of water, much more than usual. Try to minimize beverages with caffeine, sugar or alcohol as these can make you more dehydrated. Review the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke from the CDC (learn more here).

At home, pull your curtains or blinds to keep the sun from baking down on your windows. If you can't cover your windows, be careful not to burn yourself on the hot window glass or on any metal that is in the path of that sunlight. Children are especially vulnerable to this issue when familiar objects become unexpectedly hot.

I'll be spending this sweltering weekend sorting papers for shredding, touching up some paint, and hanging some art. Is anyone else planning to take advantage of this heatwave to catch up on some neglected home improvement projects?

Image: Bethany Nauert

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