Even the toughest among us can wilt like lilies when the temperatures soar. All of those 's' words of summertime -sizzling, sultry, sweltering, sweaty, steamy, scorching- can make you feel hotter just by thinking about them.
There's no need to crumble under the power of the sun, no matter what the thermometer says. Use these 15 tips for keeping your home, your self and your family cool this summer, and you can beat the heat while feeling daisy-fresh all season long.
Keep Your House Cool
- Get out the slow cooker. Strangely, more people use their crock-pots in the winter. In the summertime, you can avoid turning on a blazing hot oven by slow-cooking a meal, even while you're out enjoying the day. Look for recipes that use summer vegetables, and you can feed your family healthfully while keeping the house cool.
- Use heat-generating appliances in the evening. Don't turn on the clothes dryer or the dishwasher during the hottest part of the afternoon, or you'll definitely feel their power to raise the temperature of a room. Get in the habit of running them in the cooler evening hours.
- Shade sun-facing windows. The sides of your house that get the most sun need to be protected, especially glass windows which can absorb an almost ridiculous amount of heat. Shade the hottest spots in your house, and you'll also reduce your cooling bill.
-Install ceiling fans. Not only do ceiling fans provide constant air flow and make your body feel much cooler, but they're also easy to install. Have the DIY-er in your family add one to the rooms with the most use, and enjoy a balmy breeze even when you're indoors.
- Clean your filters. A/C isn't all it's cracked up to be if it's not working at its full capacity. A dirty air filter can reduce your air conditioner's flow by 1% per week. Clean or change filters regularly and you can improve your A/C's ability to keep your home its coolest.
Keep Yourself Cool
- Stay hydrated. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already suffering the early effects of dehydration. Sip water regularly, not just at mealtimes, and keep a water bottle handy in the car or while you're outside. Add a splash of citrus juice for extra flavor and you'll drink even more.
- Avoid food and drinks that dehydrate. Caffeine, alcohol and salt can all dehydrate your body, so limit your intake in the summer months. If you do drink coffee or alcohol, try to have a glass of water for each unit consumed to help restore your natural balance.
- Dress for heat. Whatever your personal style, dark colors and heavy fabrics won't do you any fashion favors when you get hot and sweaty. Wear the lightest-colored clothing you have, and lean towards light, natural, absorbent fabrics like cotton and linen.
- Use sunscreen. If you think you feel hot now, it's nothing compared to how you'll feel with a blistering sunburn. Stay protected at all times, even when driving in the car or you're just outside for a short time. The sun is often more powerful than you think it is.
- Take it slow. There's a reason they call them "the lazy days of summer." While you don't want to lie around and do nothing, overexerting yourself can be fatal in the hot weather, and activity also raises your body's temperature. Have fun, but keep in mind: there's no hurry.
Keep Your Family Cool
- Get wet. Nothing beats the heat and cools the body like water. Take your family to a local swimming pool or find a tranquil lake that's safe for swimming. You can even have fun in the backyard with a sprinkler or a garden hose. Moms and Dads will also appreciate a cool shower on a hot afternoon.
- Hit the A/C. If your house is too hot for comfort, go to where the air conditioning is. Movie theaters are notoriously chilly (you might even need a sweater), or you can cool off while finding some summer reading at the library. Don't forget museums!
- Head for the shade. Outdoor activity doesn't have to mean hot beaches and direct sunlight. Take your family on a hike in the shady mountains and pack a picnic basket with plenty of drinks and snacks. If you know a spot with a waterfall, you can get wet, too.
- Plan lighter meals. Heavy meals -especially protein-based ones- actually raise the body's temperature. In the summer months, you can keep cooler by eating smaller amounts more frequently, rather than three big meals. Make sure fruits and veggies are a major component and you'll also get more hydration.
- Let the kids camp. If the air conditioning is on the fritz, don't make your children suffer in their sweltering bedrooms. Let them take the camping gear outside and sleep under the stars. They'll remember it for a lifetime and thank you repeatedly.
Remember those hot-sounding 's' words? Make this the summer that focuses on the 'c' words: calm, collected and most of all -cool.