Tips for Staying Cool in Extreme Heat

thermometer showing 30
Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay

Global warming is definitely a thing, and with a heat wave happening in the UK, I thought I’d do a quick post about ways to cope with extreme heat.

Windows & blinds

When it’s really hot outside, air coming in from outside through open windows is not a good thing, nor is sun shining in. Keep windows closed and blinds drawn during the day, and open them at night to let cooler air in.

Ice & water

I learned this trick from my blogging friend Liz – to keep caged pets comfortable, freeze containers of ice and then put them next to the pet’s cage. More generally, though, put several containers of water in the freezer when you go to bed, and then take them out at various points through the day.

Get the most out of your fans by putting a container of ice in front of them and/or covering them with a wet towel.

The fridge/freezer generates heat when it’s working to cool things, so night is the best time to make ice. The fridge and freezer release more heat the harder they work, and they don’t need to work as hard when they’re full, so if you’ve got extra room, stick some containers of water in them to fill them up and help keep them cold.

I found an Apartment Therapy article that suggests wetting a washcloth and putting it in a U-shape to fit around the back of your neck, then keep it in that shape and place it in the freezer. Then take the frozen washcloth out of the freezer and put it around your neck to cool you down. A cool wet washcloth/towel around your neck is another option.

Hydration

When it’s hot and you’re sweating a lot, you’re sweating out sodium (and smaller amounts of other electolytes) as well as water. If you’re loading up with water, that dilutes the already-depleted sodium levels in your blood. Lithium, sodium, and potassium are chemically very similar to one another (they’re all ions with a +1 charge), so if you’re taking lithium, your kidneys will respond to electrolyte loss through sweat by reducing the amount of ions (including lithium) that they’re excreting. This can throw your lithium levels out of whack and make you feel yucky.

So, besides hydrating with water, it’s important to take in electrolytes as well. In terms of fluids, options include coconut water (preferably the unflavoured stuff without extra sugar), milk, orange juice, or sports drinks like Gatorade (although these have a lot of sugar). You can also munch on salty foods. A combo of coconut water and potato chips is my go-to for heat & lithium-related wooziness.


In my neck of the woods on the Canadian west coast, we had a heat dome last year that resulted in multiple deaths, but we haven’t had any extreme weather so far this summer. Fingers crossed that it will continue that way.

Do you have any tips for staying cool in extreme heat that you’d like to share?

38 thoughts on “Tips for Staying Cool in Extreme Heat”

  1. I really like the tip on the towel for the back of the neck and then freezing it to retain its shape and its chill…genius!
    Growing up in the islands we did two things to stay cool. One, stay in the shade/shadows at all costs. And two, drink hot tea. Yes, hot as in with boiling water.

  2. Heat doesn’t bother me – humidity does! It’s an old saw but so very very true. I hate a/c but there are times I bless the inventor of that.

  3. It’s been regularly between 100° and 106° here in Texas for the past like 6 weeks at least. Being pregnant, I basically want to die. Every day. It’s fucking brutal.
    You know it’s bad when you need to start putting the misting fan out for the chickens…

  4. The only tip I can think of (you covered most of the ones I knew about, and shared one or two new ones that I’ll certainly try) is my ‘spritzer’. In my younger days I lived in a lot of apartments that had no air conditioning. Besides going home and drawing all the curtains and blinds and getting nekkid, one way I found to cool down/off was to take an inexpensive squirt bottle (with a nozzle type cap), fill it with tepid water (or if I remembered, refrigerated while I was at work) and ‘spritz’ myself with bursts of water. Being so hot I dried off almost immediately, but it brought my core body temp down enough so I was comfortable at least. I have (apparently) an extra high core body temp anyway and I really suffer in the heat. Thank God for A/C. I’m too old to get nekkid and lounge about as I did then. Plus people are always dropping by..

  5. Love the frozen washcloth idea! This is great for me in general because of migraines and a bag of frozen lumpy broccoli leaves much to be desired. Totally gonna do this as soon as I’m home.

    We’re on the third floor, so heat rises all day and it’s hottest around 5-8 pm. Yucky! But so far, bearable…

  6. I saw a tip online that says foil stuck around the outside of the house is very effective – only a question of how much foil one has I suppose.

    Using an ice pack wrapped in cloth (similar to Suzette’s comment) as a cuddly pillow at night, like a reverse hot-water bottle. Frozen vegetables work but you run the risk of having to eat them all at once if they thaw.

    I haven’t tried this my area is pretty arid, but if I lived somewhere humid I would get and throw on a dehumidifier.

    This is a fantastic post idea. Hope everyone reading from the Northern hemisphere stays safe.

  7. It’s near 97F (36C) the next few days here. We usually wash dishes and dry clothes in a.m. or overnight, when temps are cooler. But we forgot, and clean clothes are scarce…

    Water outside plants!

  8. Nice ❤… thank you… we are not used to these temperatures…and neither is our infrastructure. Some roads, even runways have been melting…
    Our houses are designed to keep heat in.
    Other countries are like…yeah whatever UK… how we make a big deal about it, but we are not used to these temperatures….and we don’t have a chance to get used to them either.

    We would usually see temperatures in our Sumner around mid 20’s but not mid 30’s and tomorrow they will be 40’s.

    1. I grew up in a hot area further inland, and it would pretty regularly hit 35º C in the summer, but everyone was prepared and had air conditioning. Here, though, almost no one has AC.

  9. I have always done the cold wash cloth around the neck . It works great. I love your idea about the ice in front of the fan. Thats an awesome idea. This post is filled with great tips, hope you don’t mind if I re-blog it.

  10. Very thoughtful, interesting post and ideas we can try. I hate seeing what is happening in Europe. I live in the Caribbean so it’s basically summer all year round but certainly nothing as devastating as the heatwave.

  11. I think I am in the minority. I love this heat. I used to live in the Middle East where temperatures were regularly very high. I loved how the heat seems to warm me deep to my aching bones.

    This heat wave is definitely making me miss the middle east and I think I want to move back. I am in the shade today but I am really missing the swimming pool and AC out there that helped you keep cool, plus the high ceilings, tiled floor and flat roofs.

    The tips you shared are great.

    1. I think I would melt if I lived in the middle east. When I travelled there a number of years ago, I was always really happy to come across something likr a 7-Eleven or a McDonald’s when I was out and about during the day because it was a chance to cool down in the air conditioning.

  12. Arizona in December when it’s 85F and you’re in the pool instead of in a blizzard? Glorious. Arizona in August after a hike you thought was a good idea because you started at 6 AM when it was only 94F? Have fun getting acquainted with your toilet.

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