Friday, July 22, 2011

Beating the heat

We’re sweltering here in Ontario this week, as are many across North America as a massive dome of heat sits above us. Last night I stepped outside at 10 p.m. and it felt like the heat of the tropics. Sticky, humid and hot.

I’ve lived in hot places before, but have gotten used to the temperate weather here in Ottawa. So it’s a bit of an adjustment to deal with temperatures above 40˚ (counting humidex). I’m trying not to complain, but I am looking for ways to stay cool. We’re certainly spending lots of time in air conditioned museums and as little as possible outdoors during the heat of day.

While there are some long-term solutions for keeping cool, like planting trees around our home, improving home insulation, and adding ceiling fans... I’ve been gathering some tips for beating the summer heat which I thought I might share here.

1) Draw the curtains, pull down the shade, close the blinds... it makes the house seem dim but helps to keep some of the sun’s heat outside. Putting up a reflector shield in the car’s windshield can also really make a difference.

2) Stay hydrated – lots of water and cold drinks (they say to avoid caffeine and alcohol, but that’s not much fun).

3) Lower the humidity in your home by turning on a dehumidifier, drying clothes outside, or using the bbq. A heat wave is a good excuse to avoid cooking by eating cold meals or getting take out.

4) Have a cold shower. I gasp as I step into an icy shower, but it feels so refreshing once I get used to it! Added bonuses of less steam in the bathroom and a lower energy demand.

5) Put a bowl of ice in front of a fan.

6) The shade of trees is much cooler than the shade of buildings, so if you have to be outdoors, seek shelter under trees. Big hats help too.

7) Head for the nearest pool – or even stay home, fill the paddling pool, put up the patio umbrella and pull up some chairs. Add kids and feet to water, and garnish with some cold drinks and watermelon slices.

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