Though summer is the season of outdoor fun, barbecues, and sunshine, it can also be the season of sunburns and stifling heat. Stay cool with a few expert summertime tricks. Keep the heat at bay and you can enjoy all the joys of summer with none of the headaches.
Dress for the weather. No matter what you’re doing in the summer heat, you’ll be happier if you’re wearing clothes that keep you as cool as possible. Your clothes can play a big role in how hot you feel, so take a moment to consider your outfit before you leave the house in the summer. A good summer outfit:
- Is made from mostly breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or artificial fabrics that “wick” sweat away from the skin.
- Uses mostly light colors like white and light blue, which absorb less heat from the sun.
- Is fairly loose-fitting, allowing air to flow next to the skin. Shorts, dresses, flowing gowns, and looser shirts work well.
- Doesn’t leave much naked skin exposed to the sun. Especially important for people vulnerable to sunburn.
Stay hydrated with cool drinks. While it’s always important to stay hydrated, your water intake needs special attention in the summer. Getting plenty to drink when you’re in the sun won’t just make you feel cooler — it’s also important for your heart and muscles. Try keeping a bottle of water with a few ice cubes in it with you whenever you go out in the summer so that you’ll always have something to drink.
- When it comes to hydration, plain old water is usually the best choice. If you’re exercising extra hard in the summer heat for longer than about an hour, a sports drink (e.g., Gatorade, etc.) can give you a boost of carbohydrates and electrolytes. However, these drinks tend to contain lots of sugar, so balance your consumption with your daily nutrition needs.
Make a cold compress. If you need to cool off right away, it’s nice to have a cold compress handy. A cold compress is just something cold that you can hold against your skin to lower your temperature. There are many different ways to make one — see our article on cold compresses for a few different ideas. Below is just one easy recipe:
- Take a clean rag or sock and soak it in water from the sink. Wring it out to remove excess water so that it is still damp. Place it in a plastic bag in the freezer.
- After a few hours, take the compress out and lay it across the back of your neck. It should quickly have you feeling cooler. Re-soak it and return it to the freezer when you’re done.
Limit your exercise. The more you move, the more heat your body generates. If your goal is staying cool, try not to use your muscles more than you need to. Walk around your neighborhood instead of running, coast on your bicycle instead of pumping your pedals, or simply consider driving if it’s an option.
- Most important of all, take plenty of breaks. Resting allows your body to dissipate some of the heat you’ve built up from exercising.
Go for a swim. The body loses heat in water much quicker than it loses heat in air. Taking a dip will cool you down rapidly. It doesn’t matter where you swim — pools are just as good as lakes and oceans for getting cool. See our swimming safety articles before you get in the water.
- If you’re swimming out in the sun, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to prevent a painful sunburn. Get someone to help you get your back — being embarrassed is no reason to get burnt