20 Tips for Staying Cool during a Heat Wave
Chill a Water-Filled Spray Bottle
Fill a spray bottle with water and place it in the refrigerator until it's cold. When the temperature inside becomes unbearable or you're about to head outdoors, grab the bottle, keep it within easy reach and mist yourself with a refreshing spritz of chilled water.
Eat Spicy Foods
Ever wonder why people living in some of the world's steamiest locales, like India and Thailand, often eat super-spicy foods? When we eat spicy foods, we sweat. When we sweat, our bodies cool down. During a heat wave, load up on red chili peppers and other devilishly hot foods and condiments like jalapenos and hot sauce.
Wear Flip Flops
Flip flops aren't just comfortable summer footwear; they can actually help keep your body temperature down during a heat wave. As your feet sweat, flip flops allow the sweat to evaporate far better than a closed shoe. This evaporation process cools your body temperature.
Place Ice Cubes on Pulse Points
In a heat wave, ice isn't just for keeping drinks cool. Fill a glass with ice cubes, wrap individual cubes in a towel or plastic bag, and place it directly on your pulse points, your body's quickest cooling spots. Easy-to-find pulse points include your wrists, neck and inner elbows and knees.
Close the Curtains, Hang Wet Sheets
If you have curtains or blinds hanging in your windows, close them. This will keep the outside light from shining in and further heating your home. As an alternative to closing the curtains, dampen a set of sheets with water and hang them in front of an open window. As the outside air blows through, the wet sheets will create a cooling effect.
Build Your Own "Air Conditioner"
Need a cooling alternative when you don't have an electric air conditioner? Place a large bowl of ice in front of a fan. Position the fan so it blows directly on the ice. As the ice melts, the surrounding air is cooled and the fan blows that air toward you.
Heat rises, and the upper stories of multi-story homes tend to be far warmer than ground level. So when the temperature skyrockets, hightail it to your lower level to help beat the heat.
Cook Oven-Free Meals
One of the quickest ways to increase the heat in your home is to turn on your oven or broiler. Instead of firing up the stove in the midst of a heat wave, try eating foods that don't require using the oven, such as salads, crock-pot recipes and microwaveable meals.
Create a Rice-Sock Ice Pack
Steamy summer nights can make for awful sleeping conditions. Stay cool under your sheets with an easy-to-make rice-sock ice pack. Simply grab a sock, stuff it with rice and put it in the freezer for a few hours. When sufficiently cold, place it under the covers with you. Rice retains the cold for long periods of time, keeping you cool.
Turn Off Your Lamps and Change Your Bulbs
Table and ceiling light fixtures emit heat. When appropriate, keep them turned off as much as possible. Additionally, make sure to switch your light bulbs to eco-friendly ones, such as fluorescent or LED bulbs, which emit lower levels of energy and heat.
Avoid Heat-Producing Appliances
If you can't avoid running the washing machine or dishwasher during a heat wave, at least be sure not to use the dryer or the dishwasher's drying cycle. Both of these emit enough heat to add to your discomfort. Instead, let your clothes hang-dry and your dishes air-dry.
Head to a Cooling Center or Air-Conditioned Public Building
During excessive heat, many cities set up free cooling centers for residents, offering water and air-conditioning. Take advantage of these, or head to an air-conditioned public building like a library or shopping mall.
Drink Plenty of Water with a Twist
Drink lots of water. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it may be the most important way to survive a heat wave. To get the most out of your beverage, add a few sprigs of mint to your glass. Mint creates a cooling sensation, making the water taste even more refreshing.
Eat Your Melons
It's important to stay hydrated during a heat wave, and one tasty way to do so is by eating water-based fruits, such as watermelons, cucumbers and grapes. Be sure to chill them for added effect.
Wear Moisture-Wicking Clothing
Make like runners and other athletes and don moisture-wicking fabrics to help stay cool. Moisture-wicking fabrics pull moisture away from your body to the outer layer of the cloth, keeping you feeling cooler. You can purchase all manner of moisture-wicking products, from t-shirts and tank tops to shorts and even underwear.
Stop Fanning Yourself
Many people try to cool off by fanning themselves. It may seem counterintuitive, but fanning yourself actually requires energy, making you even hotter. Instead, sit still and relax for as long as possible.
Take a Cool Bath
Fill a bathtub with cool water and allow yourself to soak. This simple act will lower your body temperature and cool you down considerably. After resting in the tub for a stretch, drain out some of the water and refill with cooler water to continue the refreshing soak.
Avoid Alcoholic Beverages
Sure, it's tempting to indulge in an ice-cold beer or frozen cocktail during a sweltering night, but it's not really going to cool you off. In the long run, alcohol dehydrates you, just like the heat. Avoid temptation and stick with flavored water or juices to stay hydrated and cool.
Find a Cooling Indoor Activity
A heat wave can be an excellent time to get your winter-sports craving satisfied. Check local listings for nearby ice skating rinks, where a few hours on the ice will do wonders for your overheated self.
Head to Cooler Climates
If your schedule and finances are flexible, the best way to survive a heat wave might well be to escape it. Head to a cooler climate and bask in the lower temperatures.