Many areas of the world are experiencing more extremes of weather and lots of us are dealing with extra heat in homes that are not equipped for it, so I want to share some tips for surviving a heatwave with no Air Con. Portable Air Conditioning is expensive to buy and air conditioning is expensive to run which rules them out for a large proportion of the population. The sad fact is that this extreme weather and heat we are experiencing aren’t going anywhere fast and it is predicted to get worse.
It is essential to prepare in advance for this emergency heat as it is deadly. Heat kills and it effects the vulnerable and elderly first but no one is immune and deaths and illnesses caused by heat are largely preventable. By 2100, heat exposure will threaten the health of an estimated 4 billion people, according to an International Labour Organization report.
The fact is air conditioning might actually be adding to climate change and exacerbating the issue for everyone. As well as guzzling huge amounts of electricity, AC units contain refrigerants that are potent greenhouse gases. These refrigerants are in fact the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in every country on Earth It certainly is not a sustainable long term solution for our current climate crisis. So we need to look to other solutions that protect our families. It is hard enough to get children to sleep over allergy season without adding in a heatwave and this level of extreme heat. So that is where these tips for surviving in a heatwave with no air con really come into their own.
Tips for Surviving a Heatwave with No Air Con
It goes without saying you always put your own life jacket on first but once you have then check on elderly and chronically ill neighbours. Community is essential in hard times as we have learned throughout the pandemic.
- Keep the windows shut and blinds or curtains are drawn during the daytime, black them out with shutters if you can or use aluminium foil shiny side out and then add cardboard over it. Open them at night if there is any cool air to let it into the house. if it is cooler outside than inside then open all the doors in the house. Open 1 window in each room. If you have a fan for each room, put them in the open window facing OUT. The plan is to push the hot air out whilst allowing a flow of cool air in. Hanging wet sheets in doorways/windows or breezeways can act as a poor man’s air conditioner. Try Put a bowl of ice in (or a bottle of frozen water) in front of a fan to cool down the breeze and mist the air with cool water and fans dry the air and make it feel warmer.
- Talking about fans, if you have ceiling fans that can reserve (run counter-clockwise), then do that so they suck the warm air up rather than push it down. Some people say that fans do nothing but move the warm air, however, one study showed that fan use in a simulated Vietnamese working environment of 30˚C with 70% humidity is the equivalent of 7˚C of cooling with air conditioning, so I think the key is to keep the air moist with regular misting.
- Keep hydrated any way you can. Try to keep continually drinking, water is best but anything is better than nothing. Fill the fridge with water heavy fruit such as melon and the freezer full of ice lollies and ice pops. Frozen grapes and cherries are ace. Don’t stress about eating focus your precious energy on feeding what you know your family will eat and drink and have your main meal when it is cooler. Try rehydration sachets to keep your salts and sugars balanced.
- Change your schedule if you can. So you can sleep when it is hottest and eat and function during the cooler hours. There is a reason the Spanish have siestas and eat later at night. Lower your expectations of just what you will get done and when. Slow down or do nothing.
- Use the cooler rooms. Heat rises, so consider bringing mattresses downstairs. Keep your family inside during the hotter hours and this includes any pets.
- Wear flowing long sleeved natural fibre clothing such as shirts, trousers and dresses, especially in light colours, reflect the heat better. Also now is not the time for modesty, so wear what you feel cool in and children be naked if they are comfortable that way. My husband has some linen shorts and a shirt he lives in during really hot weather whereas I prefer a wafty muslin cotton linen dress. Pop lightweight socks and hats in ziplock bags in the freezer and alternate water wearing and replacing them.
- Sleep with lightweight bedding. Many people pop a sheep in a ziplock bag in the freezer or even dampen a sheet and pop it in the fridge. Let children sleep naked or in just a nappy.
- Water is great for cooling down your body whether that be regular cool showers and baths (fill the tub in the morning with cold water and empty it on a night, you are not using it to get clean just to cool down). Fill a plant mister with water and a drop of essential oil and pop it in the fridge to regularly mist you and the air. For children paddling pools, water guns, sprinklers and mist bottles are fun and cooling. Stick your head under cool running water and get your hair wet. This cools down your core body temperature. Cool wet flannels, frozen hot water bottles and cooling pads. If you don’t have them then use frozen vag as emergency cooling pads. We have cooling mats and towels for the dog and we use them for ourselves too!
- Apply cold strategically. Wet a handkerchief, bandana, or other cloth with cool water and press it against the pulse points on your wrist, neck, chest, or temples. They’re the spots that release the most heat from the body, and where the veins flow closest to the surface of the skin. The same applies around the back of your neck for some instant heat relief. When the cloth dries out, just get it wet again and repeat the process as needed – I love pet cooling towels for this which are often cheaper than human ones. They are like shammy leathers that you dampen and keep in the fridge.
Also, check out our ten cool kids activities for hot days.
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Why not also check out these 7 simple ways to keep cool in summer.