10 Tips to Beat the Summer Heat
Even when the sun is out to get you!
It seems like we were just wishing for warmer weather, and boom! Now it’s hot! If the summer sun is making you melt, keep your cool and read on for 10 great ways to beat the heat.
1. Go Swimming
Ok, ok, this one is a bit obvious. After all, we are surrounded by 11,842 lakes in Minnesota, not to mention swimmable rivers. A quick dip is great for cooling down. But there are a few water resources you may have overlooked.
If you don’t have kiddos with you, check for adult swim times at your local public pool for some refreshing me-time.
There are resorts and waterparks throughout the state where you can cool off with a one-day pass. Think waterparks are just for kids? Imagine floating down a lazy indoor river, then ordering lunch or having a picnic. Passing summer thunderstorms won’t rain on this party!
2. Try a Cooling Towel
True confession: my dog and I both have cooling towels! Coming in different types of absorbent fabrics, cooling towels give your body the sense reducing body temperature through evaporation. After soaking with cool water and wringing out, snap it and then drape it around your neck. Our dog wears hers like a bandana with a Velcro closure. I can attest that a cooling towel provides instant relief after a workout or a summer doggie walk. When the towel starts to get warm, simply rinse and repeat, and it will be cool again.
3. Make DIY Frozen Treats
One of my favorite childhood memories was making popsicles with Mom, including the agony of waiting for them to harden! Popsicle molds have come a long way since then, and there are a host of delicious flavor combinations you can try out all summer long. Here is one of my favorites from JessicaGavin.com:
Minty Watermelon Popsicles
+ 3 cups watermelon slices, divided
+ 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
+ 1 1/2 cups coconut water
+ 2 tablespoons lime juice
+ 1 tablespoon honey
For adults, spike these popsicles with watermelon vodka. Yum! Heat…what heat?
4. Stay Hydrated
The first line of defense in keeping your body cool is to drink plenty of water.
Think of your body as an air conditioner, keeping your body temperature hovering around 98.6. When it gets too hot, your brain sends out a signal to sweat in order to cool you down. You are losing fluids through sweat and urination. So, whether its physical activity or just the heat of the day, it’s important to replace those fluids by drinking lots of water.
The Center for Disease Control suggests drinking plenty of water before and during physical activity, and continuing to stay hydrated throughout the day. Being thirsty is actually an early warning sign of dehydration, so pump up those fluids beforehand, and keep sipping water even if you don’t feel thirsty yet.
How much water should you drink? While each person’s needs are different, a general rule is eight, 8-ounce glasses per day, or about half a gallon spread throughout the day. And just to dispel the myth that drinking too much water is harmful, a healthy adult can process about four gallons of water a day, so there is plenty of leeway if your body needs more fluids during hot weather or exercise.
Carrying a reusable water bottle is so on trend now, you can take one with you everywhere, even into restaurants. Ask your waiter to refill your water bottle for you at the end of your meal! You can check out the top rated insulated water bottles on Amazon. I like one with a flip up straw top and narrow base to fit in my car cup holder. Another feature to look for is a wide mouth under the cap for adding ices cube or fruit to zing up the flavor.
5. Take Advantage of Cooler Hours
Early morning and late afternoons are blissful during the summer. Cooler weather makes being out in nature much more enjoyable. Here is the amazing thing—there are fewer people out in the parks, trails and lakes during these hours.
A lake with a popular swimming beach near our house is overrun during the day, but is deserted in the morning and clears out around supper time. Get up earlier and go for a walk before work or take some healthy snacks to the park late in the day for an alfresco supper.
Stay indoors between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to avoid the hottest part of the day, take a nap or go to an air-conditioned mall or a movie.
6. Find or Make Some Shade
If you have to be out in the heat of the day, finding some shade, or bringing shade with you will help keep you cool. If you have an outdoor project like landscaping, plan your work so that you are working on the shady side of the house, then move to the other side as the sun moves.
When planning a summer hike, consider a trail that’s naturally shaded rather than walking in the full sun. For example, at Glendalough State Park in west-central Minnesota, a walk along the lake is likely to be blazing hot, while a forested trail is a much cooler option. And you can jump in the lake afterward!
Planning on watching sporting events or other outdoor daytime activities? Consider purchasing a chair with an attached umbrella. There are also many options to add shade to an existing chair or patio space. These not only cool your space, but also provide protection from sunburn.
Even hats have gone high tech in providing cooling shade. Choose a wide brim evaporative hat with mesh cooling zones and a moisture wicking band. A hat is an easy way to provide full sun protection for your noggin, and keep you cool.
7. Make Your Own Wind
A few years ago, we were setting up for a festival in Perham, Minn., in blazing hot August heat. I ran to the dollar store and picked up a batch of battery-operated misting fans for all of our senior volunteers. They were a lifesaver. The evaporation caused by the combination of mist and breeze has an instant cooling effect.
For even more transportable wind, check out something like the OPOLAR portable fan. Running on batteries or USB power, this little fan will create a personal breeze on the go.
8. Wear Cool Clothes
I’m not talking cool as in the latest fashion here, but rather, breathable clothing that will help you stay cool. Take inspiration from workout gear, which is designed with sweat wicking material to pull sweat away from your skin and dry quickly. In “regular” clothes, choose loose fitting styles in light colors. Cottons or a light poly cotton blend are good choices over heavier fabrics.
Don’t forget about your feet. Almost one-fourth of all of your body’s sweat glands are in your feet. Wear ventilated shoes or sandals that allow your feet to breathe without trapping sweat and heat.
If you absolutely have to be out in the heat of the day working or attending farm chores, consider investing in a cooling vest. This special garment has built-in freezable gel or ice packs to keep your body cool during sweltering heat. There are even cooling vests for your dog!
9. Avoid Using Your Oven
Cooking can make your summer kitchen bake! The best way I’ve found to avoid using the stove and oven is to have my husband barbeque most meals outdoors. But for those of you who don’t have a BBQ buddy, plan some no-cook meals for super-hot days.
The Food Network has put together a great list of no-cook recipes, perfect for summer. Note: Your fridge will run more efficiently in hot weather if you avoid opening it too often. Your food will also stay fresher longer. Think through all the ingredients you need to pull out, then gather them back up to put away.
10. Keep the Inside of Your House Cool
If you don’t have AC, you might want to consider adding a whole house fan to release hot air trapped inside. While this type of fan can run about the same cost as room air conditioners, the fan wins in ongoing energy costs. AC units are expensive to operate. However, a whole house fan will not make rooms as chilly as AC, and there is more air movement, so not a great option for people with allergies.
A window fan with reversable direction is also a good option, especially for top floor rooms, because heat rises. You can draw cool air in during the morning and evening and push out hot air during the day. If you have a window on both sides of a room, set one fan to blow in and one to blow out, creating a cross breeze.
Website Family Handyman says that up to 30 percent of unwanted heat comes from your windows. Closing shades and blinds is one of the least expensive ways to make your house shady and cool inside. Blackout curtains makes shading windows even more efficient. Coming in a variety of colors and styles, these curtains have an extra outer-facing layer that blocks sunlight. They will also help you keep heat in during the winter!
Did you know you need to adjust your ceiling fans seasonally? During the summer, ceiling fans should run counter-clockwise. There is usually a toggle switch on the fan base to make this adjustment.
Keep cool and be cool
According to research compiled by Healthline.com, getting overheated and suffering from even mild dehydration can cause bad moods, headaches and lack of concentration. So put a little thought into keeping cool this summer to be happier and more comfortable.