Getting through another hot day…

I though it might be timely to post about how people can keep cool on hot days.

In particular, how to keep cool without air conditioning.

Victoria’s power supplies are often stretched on scorcher days, resulting in power outages as resources find their limits or equipment is working harder than it was designed for. We need to be good citizens towards those who live in areas where air conditioning is their last resort for health – whether it be the sick, the elderly, or those living and working in hot buildings or environments. There is potential for the power you use to cause a power outage for someone who needs an electricity supply to survive.

So, how can it be done?

The key to keeping cool and healthy on hot days is to drink adequate water and let evaporation do its job. Our bodies perspire to maintain a core body temperature. Air movement over our skin dries the perspiration, and when this happens it cools us down. We need to drink more water on hot days simply because we perspire more. It’s also important to keep out of direct sunlight.

You can help your body out by:

  • staying inside, or out of direct sunlight
  • wearing less clothing. Wear your swimmers if you can. This helps air movement over the skin.
  • putting a t-shirt in a sink to wet it with the cold tap, wring it out, and put it on.
  • use a squirt bottle
  • wet a bandana (or similar) and wear it around your neck or head, or simply reguarly using a damp face washer on your skin
  • wet a hat or cap and put it on!
  • follow your pet around. they typically can judge the coolest part of the house, such as a tiled surface to sit or lay on.
  • munch on some ice
  • avoid sugary drinks
  • use a fan (electric or simply fan yourself) wherever possible over air con. The air movement does the trick. If you are unwell or elderly and need air con, yes use it… but in most cases a fan over moist skin does the job perfectly and uses a very small fraction of the power. Air conditioners are a big drain on our energy supplies.

In your home or workplace:

  • you can use a desk fan where you are sitting working, or use a pedestal fan on oscillation to share around the air movement amongst people
  • don’t sit so close to each other if you can get away with it. We radiate heat ourselves and more space means more air movement. (Try not to offend!)
  • turn off all unnecessary electrical equipment. Typically electrical equipment produces some heat and switching off what isn’t being used will reduce the air temperature inside somewhat. As well as restricting use of air conditioning, switching off unused appliances also means there will be more power in the grid for those that need the supply, such as hospitals.
  • relax, read a book, the paper, magazines, play a board game. Moving about will make your warmer, so just take it easy. Try activities that involve a lot of sitting about, taking your mind off the weather and reducing the electricity/appliances you are using. Books and board games don’t heat a room like your tv or computer will. Unless you are some kind of a professional athlete who’s trained to do it, don’t even contemplate sports when it’s a scorcher outside.
  • open your house up to cross ventilation wherever you can. Try to catch breezes if they are around.
  • shut your blinds to prevent direct sunlight entering and warming your house

Drink adequate water, but don’t go overboard. A simple test for dehydration is just whether your mouth feels dry. Sip water regularly instead of gulping it down. It’s possible to drink too much water, so just drink enough to ensure you don’t feel thirsty. Make sure you look after each other, including your pets.

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