I don't need to tell you that we are currently under an intense heat dome that's been keeping our summer temps extremely high for a record-breaking number of days. Us Las Vegans are accustomed to surviving in the desert heat, albeit with lots of air conditioning and sunscreen. But with high utility costs, constantly running the air conditioner on blast simply isn't an affordable option. So how are you supposed to keep cool when temps are well over 100 degrees? Here are some tips that might help.
- Keep yourself hydrated - When you're hot, you sweat out a lot of your body's moisture to try to keep cool. Make sure you are replenishing your body with the liquid it needs. The temperature of the water doesn't matter since your body will heat it.
- Take a cold shower or bath - A cold shower or bath can help lower your core temperature. Try incorporating peppermint soap, the menthol activates brain receptors that tell your body you're experiencing something cold.
- Apply cold washrags to your neck and wrists - You can cool down more quickly by placing a cold washrag or ice pack on your neck and wrists. These pulse points are areas where blood vessels are close to the skin.
- Keep your blinds closed - Help keep your house cooler by keeping the sunlight from beaming directly into the house. Blackout curtains can help insulate a room as well.
- Use fans to their best advantage - Placing a box fan facing out of a window can blow out hot air. Using a simple standing fan in the areas you are in can help keep you feeling cool. If you have ceiling fans, make sure they are on their summer setting, meaning that the blades turn counterclockwise to push air down. Use the exhaust fan in your kitchen or bathroom to draw out the heat created by cooking or showering.
- Install energy-efficient light bulbs - LED light bulbs generate less heat than regular incandescent bulbs, plus they use up less energy.
- Switch to breathable linens - This applies to you and your bed sheets. Try to only wear natural, breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. For your bed, while the higher thread count sheets might feel nicer, they have more weaving per square inch and aren't as breathable as lower thread count sheets. So for the hot summer months, consider switching your sheets out for lower thread count cotton.
- Sleep on your lowest floor - For those of us who have a two-story home, the heat is going to rise and make that top floor the hottest area. If it's possible, temporarily sleep on the lower floor where it's cooler.
- Stop cooling unused rooms - You don't have to keep that guest room at a steady 72 degrees when you don't have guests. For any room you aren't using, close the blinds, the air conditioning vent, and the door to save on your energy costs.
- Don't freeze blankets or clothing - It might seem like a good idea, but refrigerating or freezing wet items of clothing or blankets to use during sleep isn't a viable option to keep cool overnight. The items will warm up within a matter of minutes, leaving you wearing damp items that might mold your mattress.
- Be a savvy cook - Adjust your cooking so you aren't heating up your house in the process. Use a slow cooker, grill outdoors, or do your cooking early in the morning.
Now that we've covered how to keep the physical effects of heat at bay, let's talk about the emotional toll the heat can have on us. Keeping physically cool is hard enough without accounting for how high temperatures can affect our mindset. Extreme heat can affect stress, increase aggression, and exacerbate mental illness. Studies have shown that there is a link between increased crime rates and high temperatures. The most noticeable increase in crime is acts of domestic violence. It's important to be aware of how the heat is affecting you and your loved ones, try to stay cool, and give yourself mental health breaks. If you find yourself in an unsafe environment, please reach out for help to a trusted loved one or to a domestic abuse shelter like SafeNest. Please take care of yourselves during this unrelenting heat wave.