What would we talk about in Minnesota if not the weather?
While weather is always a source of conversation in this great state of fluctuations, it’s time to get truly serious about this summer’s heat. Do you know how to stay cool?
Here is some advice, most of it straight from the experts, and a little of it from my mother, who knew a thing or two about surviving Minnesota extremes.
- Channel your inner Lawrence of Arabia. Ever wonder why people wear loose, long clothing in the desert? It serves a purpose beyond the important, obvious one of keeping your skin from overexposure to the sun. Loose-fitting clothing allows you to sweat naturally (your body’s built-in air-conditioning), and the sweat evaporates from your skin without getting your clothing wet and steamy. Instead of pulling on your skin-tight jogging pants for your morning jaunt, try walking like an Egyptian.
- Eat like a Mexican, or an Indian. Those who live in southern climates eat chiles and curries for reasons beyond the fact that they taste great. They help your body pump out the sweat (see #1). While you might not be hungry for spicy foods, your body will thank you (even if your date or spouse doesn’t).
- Keep your skin cool. There are many ways to do this, some really very pleasant. Slather yourself with aloe lotion stored in the refrigerator. Apply cool compresses to your pressure points — neck, wrists, ankles. Use liquid ice patches wherever they feel good. Yes, wherever.
- Avoid the temptation to climb into a cold shower or icy bath. Moderation is the key here — use tepid water instead. A polar plunge makes your body work overtime to bring your temperature back up.
- Eat small meals, and avoid proteins. Heavy meals and proteins require more digestive action, which revs your engine and fuels the fire.
- Speaking of fire — pour on the water! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Your soccer coach and mom were both right. Drinking plenty of liquids is key. Just make sure you stick with hydrating liquids and not enemy drinks disguised as refreshment. Diet sodas or anything with caffeine exacerbates the problem of dehydration. Sugar is good in moderation, but artificial sweeteners are a no-no.
- Save the alcohol for another day. It increases your metabolism, which builds internal heat (as if I needed to tell you that). The external temperature will make you light-headed enough without adding an extra woozy factor.
- As for feeling woozy, watch for heatstroke. Signs of a serious problem can come on quickly. If you feel dizzy, are confused, have a rapid rise in your body temperature, or develop a rapid heart rate or rapid breathing, get help immediately. And listen to others if they voice concern about you. The victim is often the last one to recognize trouble.
- Don’t necessarily skip physical activity, but think smart and err on the side of caution. Take your walks early, or very late. Reduce your bike ride from 10 miles to a couple of miles. Chase the kids indoors and resist the siren call of the lake, which can provide deceiving but only short-term relief. It might be better to skip the lake and dive into a good book, or pull out the board games. Hit the slides on Chutes and Ladders and skip the playground.
- Give yourself one last cool-down before your head hits the pillow. Keep your sheets in the refrigerator, or plunge them into the freezer for a half hour before bed. Ah!
Now, store today in your memory bank. Then, next January you can remind yourself about the summer that was so hot you put your sheets in the freezer, right next to the snowball from the first plowable snowfall of last winter. Which for many Minnesotans, by the way, came in March of this year, a short four months ago!
Isn’t it grand to be a survivor?