How to Stay Cool Without A/C
A lot of Northerners were very kind during the freeze in Texas this winter with tips on how to stay warm for people who had lost heat. This is an attempt to repay that favor for people in the Pacific Northwest and other northerly locations who are facing dangerous heatwaves without built-in A/C. My qualifications to give this advice are that I was a summer camp attendee and counselor with no A/C for many summers in humid-ass central Texas with highs over 100F basically every day. Hopefully some of it will be of use to somebody who isn’t used to the heat.
1) PUT ICE WATER IN YOUR BODY. Ice water is your best friend and the #1 way to drop your body temp. Drink more than you think you need (like, at least a half-gallon a day and closer to a gallon or more if you have to be outside doing manual work all day) to cool your insides down and stay hydrated. Have some bananas, trail mix, or a sports drink to help replace the electrolytes you’re sweating out and keep you from getting cramps, but try to have most of your fluid intake be water. I used to take a giant water bottle, fill it part way with water, and freeze it on its side so the ice would slowly melt over the course of the day and my water would stay cold longer.
2) PUT ICE WATER ON YOUR BODY. Cold water, ice, or a damp rag on your head and neck, the backs of your knees, the insides of your elbows, and under your armpits will help you cool down the best, because your blood runs close to the surface in those places. Cold packs designed for injuries or lunchboxes, bags of frozen vegetables, etc. can substitute for ice water as well. Even room-temp water will pull heat away from your body better than body-temp sweat will, especially if it’s humid, so if you don’t have enough ice, the sink, bathtub, or hose will do fine. Dipping your feet into cool water helps a ton as well if you have to sit and work and don’t want your clothes to be wet.
3) WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO GET SO MUCH ICE? To make sure you have enough ice to last you the weekend, especially through a potential power failure, I recommend getting a cooler (even one of the cheap styrofoam ones is fine in a pinch) and ~10lbs of ice from the big coolers at most gas stations, drug stores, or grocery stores. Try to do this now, before anybody loses power, and store as much in your freezer as you have space for to keep it from melting. You can use it for drinking or to keep your food cold in a power failure. You can use it for a party later if you don’t end up needing it during the heat wave, but you will probably be very happy you had it.
4) AIR FLOW. Being inside a room with the windows closed is the worst possible place to be if you don’t have A/C, because glass windows create a greenhouse effect and the hot air can’t escape. If at all possible, find a shaded place outside where you can catch any possible breeze. If not, open all your windows and, if it’s safe, doors so you can get a cross-breeze. Hopefully you have window screens to keep pets and kids in and bugs out. If not, you’re gonna have to do your own risk assessment. Fans of all sizes and descriptions are your friend; ceiling fans should be set to spin counterclockwise in summer. Even if you have A/C, finding or making a handheld fan will be worthwhile for when you have to venture outside. If you aren’t in a situation where you need to conserve ice, blowing air over a cooler full of ice will give you a makeshift A/C.
5) SHADE. You will probably immediately notice that direct sunlight is a miserable place to be when it’s super hot. Find or make a shaded location, and don’t be afraid to move around to avoid the sun as the day goes on. Stay on the shady side of the sidewalk whenever you walk someplace. Try to shade your windows as best you can without obstructing airflow using blinds, curtains, shutters, etc. especially if they’re directly in the path of the sun. Do not be a jerk to your neighbors if their shade solutions are ugly. If you can get a shade for your car windshield, I highly recommend it, as the steering wheel, dashboard, seatbelts, and even seats can quickly become too hot to touch in a sealed car and will hold that heat for a long time.
6) CLOTHING. Light-colored, loose clothing that is as close to 100% cotton or linen as you can find is your friend. It doesn’t necessarily have to be short as long as it’s breathable. You will sweat through anything you wear, so I personally prefer only wearing machine-washable stuff. Sun hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, aloe gel for sunburns, mosquito repellent, anti-chafing supplies, etc are all worth looking into if you aren’t used to spending time in the heat.
7) TIMING. Try to stay out of the sun and avoid doing anything strenuous in the middle of the day when the heat is the worst. If you have a choice, plan to be more active early in the morning and late at night when the temperature is more bearable, and take a break in the middle of the afternoon.
Here’s a graphic from the CDC about how to recognize heat-related illnesses and what to do about them. I will add to this that if it’s hot and you stop sweating, you are getting to a dangerous level of dehydration and need to drink something BEFORE you start having more serious problems.
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Hey besties!! Its officially summer and as your local fish nerd and environmental science major, I thought I’d drop a quick reminder to check that any sunscreen you use is reef safe!! Our coral reefs are slowly dying bc of global warming (ocean acidification, etc) and certain chemicals present in sunscreens only exacerbate the process!! Here’s a little info-graphic from Safe the Reef to help everybody out!
If you see a sunscreen you are currently using, don’t just throw it out though. Use it in a pool or while you’re sunning, just not in the ocean or freshwater around you. Plastic and toxic waste are both issues too, so just finish what you have and never buy the brand again!! Personally, I’m trying to finish all of my Sunbum stuff before switching to a safer brand like Thinksport!
Baby sunscreens are usually reef safe too, bc babies have sensitive skin so their sunscreens tend to only have zinc oxide, the best sunscreen product.
There’s also this thing called the HEL list to keep an eye out for in your sunscreens. They’re the chemicals that are pollutants and show up in sunscreens and other skin products. NEVER FEAR THO BC THIS IS NOT A CHEM CLASS, the absolutely stunning, gorgeous, and amazing Haereticus Environmental Laboratory has gotcha covered. From their website, “Products labeled with the “Protect Land + Sea” Certification Seal mean that the product has been laboratory‐tested using analytical‐forensic techniques to verify that the product is free of the chemicals that are on the “HEL LIST.””
This little symbol right here:
For all you uber nerds like me who wanna know what the HEL list is, here ya go:
- Any form of microplastic sphere or beads
- Any nanoparticles like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
- Methyl Paraben
- Ethyl Paraben
- Propyl Paraben
- Butyl Paraben
- Benzyl Paraben
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk! Have fun this summer but don’t be an ass to the environment or people!
IMAGE IDs since they may not load
Reading individual bottle labels from top to bottom, left to right
Image 1: list of sunscreens
Upper three rows
All Brands containing toxic chemicals
⁃ Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46
⁃ Equate SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen
⁃ Neutrogena Ultra-sheer dry touch SPF 50
⁃ Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch SPF 30
⁃ NO-AD Sun care SPF 45 paraben free
⁃ Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50
⁃ Panama Jack SPF 15
⁃ Naturopathica Daily UV defense Cream SPF 50
⁃ alba botanica hawaiian sunscreen green tea SPF 45, broad spectrum
⁃ Aveeno protect and hydrate sunscreen SPF 50
⁃ ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica ultralight emulsion broad spectrum SPF 50+
⁃ Banana Boat Ultra Sport SPF 30 clinically proven
Oxybenzone-Octinoxate- Homosalate-Octocrylene (containing one or more)
⁃ shiseido SPF 50
⁃ SPF 15 Australian Gold
⁃ Sunbum SPF 30
⁃ Glossier Invisible Shield daily sunscreen+ broad spectrum SPF 35
⁃ Supergoop play SPF 50 everyday sunscreen broad spectrum
⁃ Eucerin Daily protection broad spectrum SPF (not legible) 30 or 50
Bottom three rows
100% Reef Safe
⁃ Mama Kuleana Reef Safe Sunscreen oxybenzone free SPF 30 waterproof
⁃ Raw Love made with love and aloha SPF 35 Reef Safe All Natural Mineral Sunscreen Maui, HI water resistant (40 min)
⁃ Raw Elements certified natural sunscreen Face + Body Broad Spectrum SPF 30
⁃ organic Sun Paste Manda made with thanaka
All Ocean Friendly
⁃ California Baby super sensitive SPF 30+ high protection
⁃ All good sport sunscreen SPF 30
⁃ ABC Arbonne baby care Broad spectrum SPF 30
⁃ Goddess Garden organics everyday SPF 30 natural mineral sunscreen
⁃ active Badger broad Spectrum SPF 30 zinc oxide sunscreen cream
⁃ Suntegrity natural mineral sunscreen for body broad spectrum SPF 30
⁃ SPF 30 butterbean organics original healthy sunscreen
⁃ Thinksport SPF 50+ sunscreen the standard for safe sunscreen
⁃ Kimberley Sayer of London ultra light facial moisturizer SPF 30
⁃ Sea and Summit ten mineral sun barrier UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum
⁃ Hawaii SPF 30 organic Body Block medicinal
Image 2: The Protect Land + Sea Certified Logo
⁃ lettering in grey saying Protect Land + Sea Certified surrounding the logo
⁃ black colored wave heptagon with a white silhouette of a turtle inside
⁃ on the turtle’s back is a black swirl with a white dot in the middle
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