Beat the heat? No, but…

A hot, hazy sunset. The white sun is setting below a cloud bank is an orange sky.

The ad on radio fairly screamed, “Beat the heat this summer.” How exactly are we going to do that? Answer: We aren’t, but we can live with it. As I sit at my writing table I can think of several things to do about summer or year ’round in tropical areas. I’ll do these randomly off the top of my hatless head. (I don’t wear my hat in the house, which, by the way, is nicely air conditioned.)

Screen shot from a phone showing the weather for a city, Clermont. It shows Partly Cloudy, 94 degrees. The forecast for 3 days is for sun and thunderstorms with highs in the 90's. There is a notation written on it, pointing to the 94 that says, "34C."
As we enter July, much of the Northern Hemisphere will experience several weeks of hot temperatures and bright sun. For anyone with a neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia, the summer heat means fatigue is a problem. For those with light skin, sunburn is a serious matter. Let us not forget that darker skin can burn, as well. Para and quadriplegics who do not regulate heat in the paralyzed areas face the serious danger of over-heating.

I personally do better in the heat than the cold, but I still have to manage it. Along the way I’ve read some very good tips and learned a few on my own, sometimes the hard way.

These are some things that come to mind in no particular order that can help. The byword of summer is Hydrate. Hydrate, hydrate. I can’t say it enough. Water is generally considered the perfect hydration drink. I like my water either filtered or natural spring water and cold. I cannot comment on sports drinks with any authority. If I get too hot, I like a couple of them. Please note that energy drinks are not considered hydration drinks.

A simple, yet effective, tool for keeping cooler and reducing light is the hat. There are hats of all styles. For light and heat we are concerned with three things: the color, the brim, and the material. My wife Sandy wearing a soft blue and white striped hat with a large, floppy brim. She has on a matching top, dark sunglasses, and long, light colored hair.

  • Lighter colors reflect light and heat. A white hat will let less heat get to the head than a black one. A dark color on the underside of the brim, however, will help with light that is reflected off of sidewalks and bright surfaces.
  • Brims can be wide (think summer straw hat), turned down (rain hat), or just in front (baseball cap). Wider defects light off of a wider skin area, whilst turned down offers good protection for the sensitive skin on top of the ears. The ubiquitous baseball cap is practical, relatively inexpensive, and comes in a myriad of logos. A friend who was helping me clean out my closet asked, “How many of those hats do you really need.?”
  • Material speaks for itself. A light cotton will be cooler than wool or felt. I have a cooling hat that has a wide brim, dark green underneath, and looks silly (my wife disagrees about silly). It can make my day outside possible.

Much the same can be said for clothing. Light colors reflect light and thus heat. Before moving to Florida I’d never have teamed a white shirt with khaki pants or shorts. It is common, and I quickly found out why. Fabrics that breathe are cooler, and looser is also cooler.

I know this will give you the perfect excuse to go out any buy that white Porsche you’ve been wanting. The color of your car makes a huge difference to its interior temperature. When we come out of the grocery a black car in the Florida sun will be 40 degrees (22C, I think) hotter than a white car. Either way, it is best to air it out and let cooler, fresher air flow through before getting in. Please don’t ever leave children or pets in the car.

Lighter to reflect light, dark to keep it out of our eyes, fresh air, and water. Now go find a nice air conditioned spot and get back to the book you’re reading!

How do you keep cool in summer? Let’s share ideas and things that work for each of us.

And that photo at the very top? That was the actual color of a Caribbean sunset, not a filter. The day got very hot. Thank you for stopping by. I hope I’ve not sounded too much like a physics professor, except maybe my high school physics teacher who made even physics fun.


Picture Descriptions: Top photo shows a hot, hazy sunset. The white sun is setting below a cloud bank is an orange sky.  The second photo shows a screen shot from a phone showing the weather forecast. Currently 94 degrees. The forecast for 3 days is for sun and thunderstorms with highs in the 90’s. There is a notation written on it, pointing to the 94 that says, “34C.”  Third photo has my wife Sandy wearing a soft blue and white striped hat with a large, floppy brim. She has on a matching top, dark sunglasses, and has long, light colored hair.

A safe port if you need it

Close up of Leprechaun on the sidewalk. He is wearing a blue hat with black band and large buckle, has huge, green eyes, a big smile, red beard, and green suit.

We all like to travel. Be if halfway around the world or to the next town, there is a bit of wanderlust in all of us. Most of us, anyway. Explore places we’ve not been, encounter new things, make friends. It’s all so grand.

And it can also be tiring. A few years ago Sandy and I took a cruise from Harwich to Boston. One of the stops was Cork, where our accessible tour drove us around a bit, twice past what they called the “insane asylum,” and dropped us at a woolen mill store. It was nice but not for 3 hours. It was a tiring day.

The next day we were in Dublin. Determined not to let this day slip away, we explored beautiful Trinity College and then boarded a hop on, hop off tour. Things went well until we finished the Guinness tour and had to push up a long hill of bricks and cobbles. Once at the top we waited for the tour trolley. And we waited. Finally a full trolly came along and said the one for us had broken down and they would be along in about 30 minutes. So we stood, I sat, on the corner with some other people in the windy cold.

Having finished the tour, we wanted to explore Grafton Street with its shops and flower markets and then finish in St. Steven’s Green. Problem… By now we are tired and hungry and in need of a rest stop. Where do we go? It’s all so pretty but nowhere to stop. Flower market with cut flowers. They are on rustic, wooden crates and look artful and creative. Small sign reads Celtic Cart.

Ah ha! Behold, McDonald’s! A small burger, some fries, a Diet Coke, and a restroom. We have visited McDonald’s around the world. We’ve had McLobster, McPizza, and Taiwan’s best seller, the QPC. The point is, it is great to explore. But fatigue, especially for someone with a chronic disease like MS or fibromyalgia, can intrude on the day. It is okay to stop, rest, and take advantage of a familiar, friendly port. Not everything has to be new and exciting for the day to be a success.

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Pictures: Top photo is large and features a leprechaun wearing a blue hat with a black band and large, silver buckle. He has large, green eyes and a red beard, and he is smiling brightly. Second photo is a small flower stand with cut flowers nicely displayed on rustic, wooden crates. There is a small sign reading Celtic Cart.