12 Common Sense Ways for Baby Boomers and Seniors to Beat the Heat
“Friends, sun, sand, and sea, that sounds like a summer to me.”
From coast to coast the scorching summer heat is ON!
The heat is hard on our bodies, our moods and our electric bills. Do we ever wonder why we so look forward to summer when we’re faced with unbearable heat and humidity that are constants for months on end. As my father used to say, what do you expect, it’s summer.
“A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawnmower is broken.”
I’m certain you’re aware of most of the dangers and remedies during the heat of the summer. But it never hurts to be reminded. The heat is no joke. My mother-in-law died of heat overload when she was in her 70’s during an extreme heat warning in Nebraska. From 2004-2018 an average of 702 people died annually of heat related causes.
Please take heat exposure seriously. You may not die, but you could suffer from heat stroke. Both my BoomerGuy and I had that while living in the desert. If you’ve ever had it, you’ll never look at heat the same way again and will do everything possible to guard against overexposure.
Hopefully my favorite 12 tips for staying cooler and safer will bring you some relief even if you think the sun is out to get you.
“During the heat wave, please remember to dress the body you have, not the body you want.”
DRINK MORE WATER. We all know how important it is to stay hydrated all year round, but especially during the summer heat and humidity. The body will tell you it needs fluids by the sweat you produce and your breathing, whether it’s regular or irregular. Experts will say to think of your body as an air conditioner. When your body heats up from physical activity or simply the summer heat, your internal air conditioner turns on and you begin to perspire. So here’s the key: your internal AC unit is using its coolant, your fluids, to keep you cool. REMEMBER to refill the tank by drinking plenty of water or your favorite sports drink which helps replenish electrolytes. I actually like Costco’s Kirkland Vitamin Water which is less expensive than other brands and along with Gatorade to help replenish my coolant level.
TRAVEL WITH PLENTY OF WATER. When you jump in the car make sure you have an ample supply of water in your drink holders and even in a small take-along cooler. You think you’re just going to the grocery and why bother but trust me stuff happens. I was returning home from an errand and the police shut down the freeway due to a jumper on one of the overpasses. It took three hours in blistering heat to finally clear the stopped traffic. What would have happened to me if I hadn’t had the foresight to travel with cold liquids. Another great idea is to purchase an insulated water container called Contigo—you can get them at Costco. They keep your water cool even in the hottest of climates, and trust me, no one enjoys drinking warm water.
KEEP THE SWEAT UNDER CONTROL. What you say? The worst part of summer is the humidity and along with it comes the inevitable perspiration. Here are two of my favorite tricks to keep it under control. Apply a little extra antiperspirant at night before you go to bed, so it works more effectively during the day. And be sure to wear breathable clothing materials such as cotton, stay away from the silk and rayon blends. They will trap heat and moisture which will prevent you from cooling down.
KEEP YOUR FOOD COOL. Summer is the best time of year for cookouts and picnics. And while this is true, some foods just aren’t that enjoyable when heated by the sun. Be sure to refrigerate or if you’re out and about place your foods in an ice chest to prevent unwanted bacteria from forming. Avoid using your oven except perhaps in the early morning hours when it’s cooler. I use the microwave for almost all my dishes on extremely hot days. Trader Joes has an outrageously healthy selection of frozen vegetable and dinners just begging to be microwaved. Stop into Costco for some of their summer treats, and their fresh fruit selection is unparalleled in price and quality. Here’s a helpful hint: rather than BBQ’ing in the heat of the day, fire up the grille in the morning and set your food aside in the refrigerator, then a short microwave will be just what you need for dinner while still enjoying the wonderful BBQ flavoring.
START YOUR DAILY CHORES EARLY. It’s never too early to get your laundry, house cleaning and even gardening done first thing in the morning. When we lived in the desert, this was an imperative. Also, it doesn’t hurt to carry an ice chest when you do venture out filled with drinks and even your makeup bag filled with cosmetics. Definitely don’t want those to melt.
OPTIMIZE YOUR FANS. Did you know that if you face your fan out rather than in at night your room will stay cooler and you’ll be able to sleep more comfortably. If you have ceiling fans, make sure they’re running counter- clockwise for summer. Another great suggestion is to purchase a portable air conditioning unit for cooling a confined space, such as a living room or bedroom. Yes, they cost a few bucks, but are well worth it and a great alternative to using your main AC unit. Here in southern California we try to do our part by watching our utility bills and helping to eliminate rolling brown and blackouts.
EXERCISE COMFORTABLY. Just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising. You can get used to working out in the heat, but who wants to. Just get up a bit earlier in the day and finish before it gets too uncomfortable. Of course, you can always switch to a water sport.
OPTIMIZE YOUR WINDOWS. You might not need to run your air conditioner full tilt if you pay a little attention to the sun pattern on your windows. Shutters are a great way to block out the sun’s rays, also you can use blinds and insulated drapes. Many of the homes here have tinted windows especially in the desert communities. Another efficient way to cool down your surroundings is to install misters—the fine spray of water will cool down your patio by at least 10 degrees.
COOL DOWN YOUR CAR QUICKLY. This is a Japanese trick, although I’ve not tried it. As you prepare to get into your car, roll down one window on the passenger side then open your driver door. Allow the car to breathe for a few moments before getting in and turning on your AC. One of our cars has seat coolers and even air conditions the center console for my cosmetics. When you park try to use sun-shades on the inside of the windshield—you’ll be surprised at the difference they make.
CARE FOR YOUR PETS AND CHILDREN. Their safety is paramount. Every year there are horrible stories about people who have irresponsibly left their pets or young children in the car where the inside temperature can easily exceed 150 degrees. Don’t do it, even if you think you’re going to be gone from the car for just a few minutes. And don’t leave the car running with the air conditioning on, it just invites thievery.
STAY COOL WHILE YOU SLEEP. The summer heat can be especially bad when you’re trying to sleep. Higher body temperatures make it more difficult to get restful sleep. If you feel like an insomniac you’re not alone. Try a “chillow” which is a scientifically advanced cooling material used in pillows and also used in foam bed pads on top of your normal mattress.
KNOW YOUR BODY’S COOLING POINTS. If all else fails and you’re stuck in the heat and can’t find a place to get cool, know your own body’s cooling points such as your wrist and neck. Wrap an ice cube in a towel, use a sports towel, or simply wet a cloth and apply them to those areas you know will give you some immediate relief.
Be kind to yourself and others. Enjoy the heck out of the summer, but in all cases be kind to yourself, to your loved ones and your precious pets. Keep them out of harm’s way and be sure to watch the grandkids around pools. I even hand out cold drinks to our gardeners and postal workers. Such a small gesture is viewed as a bucket of gold.
Until next week, stay strong and relevant. And most of all, stay chilled.
Thanks to our editorial contribution by AARP, Tree Huggers and Arizona News Channel 12.