13 Ways to Brace Yourself for One of the Hottest Summers on Record

Blistering summer days are in the forecast! Are you ready to fight the heat? Keep your cool by preparing yourself now for the scorching days ahead.

A/C checkup

Don't wait for the sizzling days of summer to check your air conditioning; have it checked now to avoid a long and hot delay, waiting for service. "The number one problem we find with air conditioners in the summer is keeping the air filter clean," says Richard Ciresi, franchisee of the Aire Serv in Louisville, Kentucky. "A dirty, old air filter will force your system to breathe harder than it should, decreasing efficiency and comfort, and increasing your energy bills and carbon footprint." If you want to run your A/C more efficiently and effectively don't overheat your house with other appliances, says Ciresi. "Use heat-generating appliances like ovens, washers, dryers, and dishwashers in the evening. If you use these appliances in the middle of the day when it's hottest outside, your cooling system will have to work even harder to cool your home. And don't place lamps or heat-generating appliances near your thermostat as it will not be able to accurately determine the room temperature and may not run as efficiently as possible." Ceiling fans are great addition and can help reduce A/C costs. Remember to switch the blades to a counterclockwise position for the summer months and only run them when someone is in the room. "Running the fan doesn't lower the temperature, but it does increase evaporation from your skin to help you feel cooler," says Ciresi.

Cool steppin'

Hot and sweaty feet are no picnic on a blistering hot day and though we would love to wear flip flops every day, that doesn't always jibe with our business attire. The key is to keep your tootsies dry. "Sweaty feet are more likely to develop athlete's foot infections, warts, and blisters," says Joan Oloff, DPM and Founder of Joan Oloff Shoes. One tip we're probably all guilty of is not drying off between our toes when we get out of the shower or out of the pool. "Just a little bit of moisture can lead to increased sweating through the day," says Dr. Oloff. When your feet start to sweat, make sure to change your socks right away. Better yet, buy socks that wick away moisture if you're prone to sweaty feet. Dr. Oloff recommends wearing breathable leather shoes and sandals, rather than ones made of synthetic material. Remember, your feet can get sunburned too, so don't forget to slather them with sunscreen. Can you clear a room with your stinky feet? Check out these home remedies for foot odor.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

drinkingwaterA. and I.Kruk/Shutterstock
Dehydration can cause headaches, dizziness, weakness and other not-so-pleasant symptoms. "When you sweat, you don't just lose water but you deplete your body of minerals," says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND and author of The Magnesium Miracle. "Drink at least 1/2 your body weight in pounds, in ounces of water. Put several pinches (up to 1/2 tsp) of sea salt or Himalayan salt in each liter of drinking water and add 300 milligrams of magnesium citrate powder per liter of water." According to Dr. Dean, magnesium is a key electrolyte that keeps your cells hydrated. "If you drink magnesium citrate powder with water at the beach, you won't come away feeling tired, with a headache, or wasted," says Dr. Dean. Steer clear of drinks that deplete your body of electrolytes, such as beer, booze, and sugary soda and sports drinks.

Workout early or late

If you enjoy a run on your lunch break, you may want to reschedule that for before work or in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day. Reginald Mason, MD, Total Health Lead for Kaiser Permanente in Georgia recommends keeping your body hydrated before, during, and after your workouts. "If you are exercising for less than an hour, drink 3 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Substitute a sports drink for water, if your workouts exceed an hour." Hydration isn't the only thing water is good for. Here's some other benefits for drinking water.

Content continues below ad

Evaporate sweat

Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke are preventable when proper caution is taken. "A person can suffer from heat exhaustion if they are working or exercising in hot weather and do not drink enough liquids to replace those lost," says Dr. Mason. "A heat stroke, which is a medical emergency, occurs when the body fails to regulate heat and body temperature rises to 105 degrees Fahrenheit." Staying hydrated and cool will go a long way when you have to be in the heat. Consider investing in these products now: Ice Cold Towels, made from polyvinyl alcohol and terylene, a super absorbent fabric, are an easy way to help you from overheating. When you wet the towel, the water begins to evaporate at a temperature that's about 20 degrees cooler than the air temperature. Since the towel can hold a lot of moisture, the cooling sensation lasts for two to five hours, plus, it doesn't drench your clothes. If you don't mind getting a little wet, the Aquabot Sprayer Bottle Top is a fun water bottle with a hose, mister, and shower feature. Spray a mist of water to cool down your skin, use it to stay hydrated, or use the shower setting to cool yourself head to toe. It's BPA-free and will fit most wide-mouthed water bottles including favorites such as Nalgene and CamelBak. You can also slather on some Yuni Rise & Chill Cooling Body Gel, a lightweight moisturizer with ingredients such as aloe vera, peppermint, eucalyptus, and green tea extract to add a cooling sensation to skin. High temps can also give you a summer cold, so here's how you can avoid it.

Nightflush your house

If you live in a drier climate where the humidity isn't a factor, you can get relief from stifling heat by nightflushing. "Without water in the air, the air does not hold the sun's heat, so shady spots and nighttime air are significantly cooler," says Christopher Dolan, president of House. Nightflushing is simply done by opening your windows at night to bring cool air in and closing them in the morning to trap the cool air in for a few hours longer. After you close the windows, make sure to draw the drapes. Using curtains or drapes like these Eclipse Blackout Curtains to block the sun from heating up your cool space.

Eat cooling foods

Nothing says summer like a cool wedge of sweet watermelon and, putting deliciousness aside, there is another benefit to this juicy fruit. "Watermelon contains citrulline, which has been shown to help blood to flow more freely throughout the body, creating that cooling effect," says Kerri Axelrod, certified holistic health coach. "When the sweltering heat of summer kicks in, I like to utilize cooling foods, such as watermelon and mint, to keep hydrated and restore balance and calm to the body's natural systems. The menthol in mint has also been shown to trigger a cold sensation in the brain, and calms the mind," says Axelrod. Choose a ripe melon, and add a few fresh mint leaves to a glass of water for a refreshing thirst quencher.

Eat light

We know that when we sweat we lose potassium but what foods are the best for replacing it when you're too hot to eat anything heavy? Kelly O'Connor, RD, LDN, CDE at the Diabetes & Nutrition Center at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, Maryland says to reach for potassium-rich foods, including bananas, strawberries, pomegranates, papaya, mangoes, and oranges. "Instead of eating a plain banana, cut it into pieces ahead of time, put a little bit of melted dark chocolate on it and freeze it so it's ready when you come in from the heat. Another cold treat can be blending your favorite fruit and putting the mixture into a Popsicle mold with a stick," says O'Connor. Even mango or papaya on top of angel food cake or frozen yogurt can be a health conscious way to enjoy a light treat.

Content continues below ad

Burrow below the grade

If you've been using your basement just for storage, you may want to make it more livable for the hot summer months ahead, especially if you don't have A/C. "At three or four feet below grade, the earth is a constant 55 degrees. So, if you have a full height basement in your home, it is cooler not only because it is out of the sun, but primarily because if you did nothing to condition this space it would technically remain 55 degrees all year long," says Dolan. Go a step further to keep hot air away by placing a fan in the warmest part of house and draw the hot air away from the basement door so cooler air can replace it. Start your basement makeover with these six ways to get your dirty basement floor clean.

Install a whole house fan

You may not see too many of these fans in newer homes but according to Dolan, it is a great design to remove hot air from the home. "The whole house fan turns on for about one hour, then a timer turns it off. The idea is that it sucks all the air out and replaces it with outside air that is 'vacuumed' in," says Dolan. In the morning, open windows in the cooler part of the house only. As the sun moves around and heats up that area, close the windows, and open windows that are in the cooler part of the house.

Keep the girls cool

Let's just be honest, the breasts can be the sweatiest part of woman's body on a hot day. A sweaty bra is uncomfortable on your skin and makes you feel miserable. Cora Harrington, editor in chief of The Lingerie Addict says there are three things that help a bra keep you cool when it's a scorcher: moisture-wicking fabric, spacer cups, and mesh inserts or panels. Lane Bryant's No-Wire Cooling Bra is wire-free with mesh insets and moisture-wicking microfiber. Vanity Fair lingerie's Cooling Touch bras has a heat-diffusing fabric that is breathable and light. Whether you're a nut for summer running festivals or just like to workout during the heat, it's essential to have cooling and comfortable support for the girls. When you begin to overheat and perspire the Columbia Sport Bras lowers the temperature of the material and the wicking feature transmits heat and moisture away from the body. Here are 13 other things your breasts may not tell you.

Cool slumber

After an exhausting day of heat, sleep would be a welcome reprieve, until you find yourself tossing and turning and flipping your pillow to get the cool side. If you don't have A/C, your body heat (not to mention a sleeping partner or a pet at your feet) can heat up your space and keep you awake instead of getting your Zzzs. The recommended sleep temperature is between 60 to 68 degrees. According to webmd.com, Ralph Downey III, PhD, chief of sleep medicine at Loma Linda University says, "if the room becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, your are more likely to wake up." Make your bed the optimal sleep temperature by trying one or all of these: Keep your mattress cool on a hot night by using the ChiliPad, a mattress pad for your bed that has a cooling and heating temperature control system. It keeps the surface to your specified temp by actively circulating water through a network of micro tubes. If you're always hot and your partner is cool, consider investing in a Wink Bed. It has dual-sided coolControl to keep you both comfortable. If you prefer the feel of a gentle, cool breeze while you sleep, the Bedfan may be your ticket to sleepy town. It's a fan that sits at the foot of your bed, providing a gentle breeze that moves under the sheet, up to the sides of your body to keep you cool throughout the night. The right temperature is key to a good night's sleep, but these weird tricks also help with other sleep woes that are keeping your up at night. If you find yourself flipping your pillow all night to get the cooler side of the pillow, you may want to try a pillow with a cooling feature like Reverie's Cool Down Pillow. This pillow can be used year-round. One side of this pillow keeps your face cool all night while the other side offers an ambient temperature for cooler weather.

Content continues below ad

Summer whites with pearls

Ananta Ripa Ajmera, Ayurveda health practitioner and author of The Ayurveda Way recommends protecting yourself from sweltering summer days by wearing loose-fitting clothing that is white or light colored, hats, sunglasses, and yes, pearls. The light-colored clothing, hats, and sunglasses will shield you from heat. "It also promotes mental peace, optimism, clarity and all the other qualities associated with sattva and a peaceful mind," says Ajmera. But how do pearls help? "Pearls are recommended because they're soothing and cooling, particularly if you have burning or heat-related conditions such as heartburn, hyperacidity or shingles," says Ajmera. Check out our foolproof guide to wearing summer whites.

View as Slideshow

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.