Six ways to cool down — without cranking the A/C, getting in the pool, or turning on a fan

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By: Olgierd RudakCC BY 2.0

Iowa’s been the center of the US heat wave this month, so I’m going to take this opportunity to moan a bit and plead for your sympathy. And gifts. And hugs. …But it’s been hot everywhere. About this time your A/C is probably also crying out for a reprieve, but we’ve got a ways to go before we’re clear of the heat.

Now’s the time to employ strategy: outsmart the heat, stay cool, and save money. But what can you do other than sit in front of the fan and visualize snowy scenes?

Lots! If you’re ready to get serious about your thermoregulation, here are six ways to be cool.

Spicy food

This one’s my favorite because it involves eating tasty things. Capsaicin, the heat-maker in hot foods, triggers perspiration. Who wants to sweat, right? The trick is this: you’re sweating but not actually raising your body temperature, as you would when you work out. Sure you’re sweating, but your body jumps straight into cooling off.

If you don’t have a go-to spicy recipe, I’ll lend you mine:

Egg & Feta Burritos

  • Eggs
  • Feta
  • Corn tortillas
  • Salsa
  • Onions
  • Hot peppers (optional)
  1. Chop onions and saute in a frying pan with oil until translucent. Add chopped hot peppers if desired, and saute for an additional minute.
  2. Crack eggs in pan and scramble.
  3. When eggs are nearly done, crumble in feta cheese. Remove pan from heat.
  4. Layer corn tortillas in between two plates and microwave for 45 seconds.
  5. Add salsa to eggs, mix, and spoon into tortillas. Eat up and sweat away!

Rubbing alcohol

One day in elementary school I stayed home sick with a high fever. My grandmother took care of me, and brought me all the string cheese and jelly beans my heart desired, but my fever wasn’t breaking — it kept rising. When it registered 104, I panicked; we’d just learned in science class that a human’s max temperature is 106 degrees Fahrenheit. I told my grandmother we needed to go to the doctor.

But grams was stubborn. She’d raised eight younger siblings and five kids and none of them had died — why start worrying about me? She whipped out the alcohol, rubbed me down, and within minutes my fever was a cool 100.

So if you’re hot, dab a bit of alcohol on your wrists, ankles, neck and forehead, and you’ll shed a few degrees fast. Do use caution, however: there is some danger to using rubbing alcohol in this manner, especially on kiddos. Personally, I don’t care — I’ve used it before and I’ll use it again; but I’ll do it in moderation and keep it away from children.

Make tea

Молочный шар

And save the tea bags. Wrap the bags in a towel or seal them in tupperware to keep moisture in and chill them in the fridge for a bit, then wrap them around your wrists. Why do I keep advising you to do things to your wrists? Mighty big veins run close to the skin through our wrists and it’s a primo place to cool the blood.

The tea bag trick works even better if you have a peppermint tea. The menthol gives an extra evaporatory jolt.

Chill the sheets

Heat is the worst when it’s too hot to sleep. Here’s a fix.

  1. Find a gym sock
  2. Fill sock with rice
  3. Tie off the end of the sock
  4. Throw the whole thing in the freezer
  5. At bedtime, slip the sock under your sheets at the foot of the bed. The rice holds cold for a long time because it’s dense and starchy, and it’ll help you cool off enough to fall asleep.

Ice your lotions

I learned this trick as a lifeguard: if you pop your sunscreen in the refrigerator it feels amaaaaaaaazing. Plus, the cold helps the active ingredients stay active for longer. If you don’t use sunscreen, switch this up for your regular moisturizer.

Allow yourself to acclimate

If you allow your body to get used to a temperature that isn’t 72 degrees with 35% humidity, you’ll fare better. If you have A/C, bump the thermostat up a bit. If you have A/C and a basement, bump it up even more and rely on the basement to be your haven in the heat. When you’re used to the inside of your house being 75-80, a walk outside on a 90 degree day won’t seem nearly as bad.

Cat Conspiracy

What’s your non-A/C secret for beating the heat? Share it in the comments, so we can all lounge together.

Comments on Six ways to cool down — without cranking the A/C, getting in the pool, or turning on a fan

  1. My Dutch mom used to swear by hot cups of black tea, both for fevers and hot days.. dutch people LOVE their tea. Something about hot black (or green/white) tea helps your body regulate temperature–which is why it’ll magically cool you off or warm you up!

    Also, quinine naturally lowers your body temperature–iced tonic water with lemon is really nice on a hot day!

  2. “Speaking of fans, don’t underestimate the power of using a fan to exhaust hot air from your house. If it’s going to be hotter outdoors than in, turn those puppies around and force warm air outside, while keeping the hot air ALSO outside!”

    My mom was religious about this growing up and it kept our house pretty cool, my dad would sleep on the couch so we could leave the door open, and suck the cool night air in. She also put tin foil on the windows on the East side of the house and bamboo shades on the West so they could let light in during the day but lowered to block the sun in the afternoon.

  3. The best way to cool off on a hot day is this.Wet a vest under a cold tap then ring it and wear it.For extra coolness sit in front of a fan.The results will be immediate and will astonish you.

  4. I snuggle with a refillable water bottle straight out of the fridge during the hottest summer nights. Not only does it cool me down, but I have water on-hand during the night!

  5. Before classrooms here in Los Angeles were required to have air-conditioning, onnhot days as a teacher, I used a trick, to cool the kids and myself down, which I learned from my parents when we would drive through hot places on vacation, in a car without air conditioning. Mom would bring large, thin, big (thick plush cotton does not work because they have to be thin enough for air to go through them, pure cotton cheesecloth works, but then dries too quickly, and disintegrates easily) towels, like cheap pool towels, wet them in the restrooms and rest-stops along the way, then we would hold them over an open window. The cooling effect is immediate, and those towels dried out quickly, but rewetting with water bottles is also cooling and fun. In my classroom, I always had large industrial-type floor fans provided by the school. A small weak fan would not work. I would bring in cheap thin poly-cotton pool towels, like mom gave us to take to the city pool where we would often loose and destroy them, the thin type are best so that air can flow through them. Soak them and just place them SAFELY on the front, (not the back!) of the grill of the fan. A student or so would be assigned the task of regularly spraying the towels and air with water to keep the cool going.

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