How to Beat the Summer Heat (and Make it Fun!)
With temperatures last weekend climbing into the 90s—and more to come from July 25 to Aug. 6— it’s time to get strategic about how we stay cool.
The heat is uncomfortable for most of us, but with temperatures this high, it can be dangerous, too.
Who is at Risk?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) children and adults who are 65 and older are especially susceptible to heat-related illness.
The CDC advises that staying in air-conditioned buildings, not relying on fans as your main cooling devices, drinking more water and limiting use of the stove or oven are all good things you can do to help minimize risk for yourself and your family.
If you or your children have a strenuous activity planned, such as a bike ride or other outdoor activity, it’s best to schedule it early in the morning before it gets too hot or in the evening if temperatures have come down by then.
How to Talk to your Kids about the Heat
It’s important that children understand that getting too hot can be dangerous. To avoid scaring them, use-child friendly language and alleviate their concerns by telling them what they can do to stay safe. The following are helpful tips for families:
- Have a heat buddy. During a heat wave, it’s important to check in on friends, relatives and neighbors and have someone do the same for you. You can also exchange tips for staying cool with your heat buddy!
- Drink plenty of water. Even if you don’t feel thirsty yet, keeping a glass of water around will help stave off dehydration and keep you cool. Whenever you refill your own drink, check on how your children are doing with theirs. If your children don’t like water, choose lightly-flavored drinks that are not high in sugar. Those can actually dehydrate you.
- Showers and baths are good ways to cool your body down. A few bath toys can make this seem like less of a chore for your kids.
- If you have to go to the store or run another errand, do not leave your child or any pets in the car. Some parents suggest leaving your purse or phone in the back seat to make sure you check it. Others suggest leaving a stuffed animal in the front seat to remind you of the passenger in the back. Make sure your child knows what to do if this ever happens. Talk about ways they could get out of the car or get your attention.
- Avoid checking the news about the heat wave around your child. News programs are geared toward adults and might scare your child, who isn’t able to contextualize the heat as well as you are. Instead, check the news yourself and tell your child what’s going on in a way appropriate for their age.
Staying Cool without Air Conditioning
Sometimes, even the best modern technologies fail us. With AC units running around the clock in the summer, a broken unit can happen to anyone. To ease the strain on your AC, keep your house cooler by not running the oven or stove, closing curtains and blinds and closing the doors to rooms you aren’t using.
Stay cool by wearing light, cotton materials and swapping out your bedsheets for cotton. If your family is having trouble getting to sleep in the heat and you have a basement, you can try having a basement slumber party, as basements tend to be much cooler than the rest of the house.
While fans shouldn’t be your primary way to cool off, they’re usually better than nothing. Place ice or cold water in front of the fan for an added cooling effect.
For information on what to do if you or your child is experiencing symptoms of heat-related illness, go here.