Beat the heat without holing up in the AC

July 24, 2005|By KRISTIN WILSON

On those hot, hot summer days when just standing still makes you sweat, it seems relief from the season's inferno is nearly impossible.

Whether you have to work outside, you have no air conditioning, or you'd prefer to live in the Yukon Territory, July's heat can dampen your long, summer days. And August might not be better.

There are some things that can be done to reduce the wilting effect caused by the latest heat wave.

Gladys Ritchie, manager at Walnut Towers, suggests to her residents they watch what they eat and reduce activity during the heat of the day.


Eating light and staying away from salt and caffeine can help make you more comfortable in the hot weather, she says. "Sometimes if you eat a lot of salt, it makes you perspire and it makes you terribly uncomfortable. ... Caffeine is an energy builder. A lot of times when people get hyper, it causes them to perspire."

High temperatures are not only uncomfortable but can be dangerous for those with sensitive circulatory systems, reminds Ita Kavanagh, a registered nurse with the Washington County Commission on Aging.

"If you are stressing your body and you already have high blood pressure, the heat will stress your heart and lungs further," she says.

Everyone should pay attention when they are active during the heat of the day, she says. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can crop up on anyone. Heat cramps are generally an early indicator that the body needs a rest from the heat, she says.

Still, there are many fun things that can be done to break the heat spell.

Here are a few suggestions:

· Fill a regular size balloon with water and place a small item, like a piece of costume jewelry or a trinket, inside. Place in the freezer overnight. Cut the balloon away once the water is completely frozen and you are left with a giant ice cube. Children will have fun cooling off, while trying to retrieve the frozen surprise. (suggestion from Just keep it away from young children who could choke on the center item.

· Take a tropical vacation ... or at least in one's own mind. Find a shady spot and set up a lounge chair. Mix together a pina colada or a frozen margarita, don a pair of shades and take a snooze to the tunes of Jimmy Buffett.

· Spend an afternoon stocking up on freezer items. Take an extra long time in the freezer aisle at the grocery store, searching for just the right frozen pizza or quart of ice cream.

· Fold ice cubes into a bandanna and wrap it around your head. The ice will slowly melt, and cool water will trickle down your neck.

· Place a bowl filled with ice water in front of a fan. Sit back and let the fan blow chilled air on your face.

· Try to keep very strenuous activities to a minimum during the day. Do chores or lifting in the morning or evening hours when it's cooler.

· No one is too old to run through a sprinkler. Or, roll down your car window and pass just a little too close to the sprinkler that is tossing water onto the street.

· Be loose. Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing that won't stick, making you uncomfortable and hot.

· Pull out photos of big snowstorms. Remember just how cold it was and how much you hated shoveling snow. Chances are just the thought of it will cool you down.

· Freeze portable bottles of water. Take the frozen bottles with you to have ice-cold water throughout the day. If you get really hot, you can use the bottle as an ice pack.

· Watch the weather forecast. On those really hot, unbearable days, plan to go somewhere air-conditioned like the mall, grocery store, movies or the library.

· Sit back and enjoy the sweltering days. Remember that in just a few months weather forecasters will be talking about arctic blasts and cold fronts. Come December, when you are bundled in winter coats, you'll be dreaming of a steamy hot, summer day.

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