Beat the Heat (As Best You Can) with These Simple Tips

July 16, 2013
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If you’re stranded at home without air conditioning, even an hour in the heat can feel like a slow crawl through the Sahara. Many of us have been able to flock to cooling centers, stroll through shopping malls or catch multiple matinees (which become late-night screenings) at our local Cineplex; others are lucky to know friends or family who emerged unscathed from the storm and have room to spare.

If you’re stranded at home without air conditioning, even an hour in the heat can feel like a slow crawl through the Sahara. Many of us have been able to flock to cooling centers, stroll through shopping malls or catch multiple matinees (which become late-night screenings) at our local Cineplex; others are lucky to know friends or family who emerged unscathed from the storm and have room to spare.

Still, there are quite a number of us who might not have easy access to transportation, or who don’t know anyone with room at the inn. Though nothing can beat the comfort of an air conditioned home, there are a few steps we can take to ease our suffering.

Start simple: Run a towel or t-shirt under cold water and wrap it around your neck. This can help quell your body heat, for a while at least. You should also favor loose-fitting clothing in breathable fabrics like cotton. Keeping your shirt sleeves and pant legs damp can offer a slightly more long-term solution that even fashionistas like Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn could approve of.

Do-it yourself: Outfitting your windows in white or light-colored dressings can reflect light and diffuse the heat. If you have battery-powered fans, you can construct Do-It-Yourself air conditioners by placing a bowl of dry ice or frozen milk in front of the fans. Those of us with kids can keep them occupied for hours by filling spray bottles with cold water and letting them go to town (actually, that sounds like fun for youngsters of all ages!). Filling a bathtub or indoor kiddie pool with ice is another way to drop the degrees inside your home.

Cool down Fido: That kiddie pool might also be your four-legged friend’s best friend. Some of us will be stranded at home during the heatwave because there are only a few select cooling stations that allow pets. Letting Fluffy or Fido luxuriate in the pool can help them keep their temperatures down; so can spraying them gently with cold water. You can even turn a stressful, upsetting time into a chance to bond by wrapping some ice in a towel and giving your pet a nice rubdown. Even if you usually crate your dogs at night, you should avoid doing so: Just think of how hot your house or apartment gets without air conditioning, and magnify that when you consider how toasty your dog’s crate gets.

There’s no quick fix or instant cool-down other than our good ol’ a.c., but there are things you can do to keep things remotely bearable as you wait for that magical moment when the lights snap back on and your air conditioning comes humming back to life.

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