Friday, October 19, 2012

It's Hot Out There

July 12, 2012

 If you haven't noticed, it's hot out there.

We've been lucky enough to catch a small break from the 100+ degree heat in the past week and even pick up a little rainfall, but it's still hot and we all know it. So, this week I thought I would offer up five small tips on beating the heat I came across while researching the subject on the Internet.

1. This is pretty cool...pun intended. It's a trick that is apparently often used in the dessert because it works better the dryer the air is, and guess what? We've got some pretty dry air out there. When that's the case, try hanging a damp sheet in an open window. The air blowing in will be cooled by the evaporating water.

2. This one comes from Bill Nye the Science Guy, so you know it's a good one. I always see people who put fans in their windows to keep the air circulating, but they generally point inside the house. Try it the other way. A house can get pretty hot throughout the course of a day and may even be a bit warmer than the air outside by nightfall.  If you turn the fan around, it works to vent the hot air from inside according to Nye. "Kind of surprising," said Nye, "Having a fan blowing in is a good idea―but it's not as effective as one that's blowing out."

3. While we're on the subject of fans, I should point out that fans do not cool a room. They circulate air and as that air blows over you, it gives you a sense of relief. Air conditioners do cool air, but often don't aim that cool breeze directly at you. So, combine the two. While your AC is running, prop a fan near the vent and aim it your way. By the time a normal running of the AC would have cooled you down, you'll already be chilly.

4. This one seems counter intuitive, but it makes sense. Remember all the times you heard that back in the day cowboys dressed in extra layers during hot days to promote more sweating, therefore helping to cool them down as the wind whipped by them while they rode their horses? No? Well I do. I'm not sure it's true - but another thing that promotes extra sweating in the human body is capsaicin...the chemical in peppers that makes them hot. It makes you sweat more easily, and when the sweat evaporates it apparently cools you down.

5. On a related note, eat light. Robert Kenefick, a physiologist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, in Natick, Massachusetts, studies the effects of extreme climates on soldiers' bodies. He suggests eating plenty of fruit and vegetables because they help keep you hydrated, plus they're easier to digest than your average fast food lunch and will keep you from feeling sluggish in the middle of a hot day.

As I write this at my desk, I'm sitting in conditioned air with an additional fan blowing in my face. My eyes are dry, sure, but it's my go-to plan for beating the heat each day at work. Everybody has their own system to stay cool, but maybe these might be something to add to your arsenal. I'm interested to see if the one about the sheet works. If you don't have any extra sheets lying around, just hose down the curtains. It's too hot to be rummaging around for sheets anyway.

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