5 Ways to Keep Cool When It’s Horribly Hot

Because staying inside with A/C and Amazon Prime until October isn’t an option.

1

Chill strategically.

woman-diving-glass-water
Photo by Ben Wiseman

There are pulse points you probably know about—on your inner wrists and near the carotid arteries in your neck—where the blood vessels are closer to the surface of the skin. Putting an ice pack or a cold, wet towel—anything cooler than the air temperature—on those points will lower your blood temperature. Then the blood circulates to the rest of your body and cools it down. Lesser-known pulse points are the tops of your feet. These might not be as accessible outside, when you have shoes on, but if you’re in bed on a hot summer night, kick off the covers to cool down. And skip the body lotion. It creates a barrier that traps body heat. Use gel or spray moisturizers instead. They evaporate quickly off the skin, removing heat. Even better if the gel is mentholated or made with peppermint oil, which makes your skin feel even cooler.
— Dendy Engelman, dermatologist and the director of dermatologic surgery at Metropolitan Hospital, in New York

2

Eat watermelon...

It really might be the perfect fruit for when it’s hot out. All fruits and vegetables contain water, which helps to hydrate you, and fiber, which holds on to water as it travels through your colon, then releases water slowly as you need it. (It’s like an extra store of fluid that your body can use to stay cool.) But watermelon has a lot of fiber and a lot of water. There’s a good reason it's such a staple in the summertime.
—Ronald A. Primas, internist specializing in integrative and preventive medicine

3

...and salt it.

I train athletes as young as six years old in the heat all summer. They sweat out a lot of sodium. Low sodium can contribute to cramping, so they need to replace it. Any salty snack will do—pretzels, beef jerky, salty crackers, things that will put sodium into their bodies and also make them reach for the water bottle. Salting watermelon has become popular among sports dietitians—it's a unique, salty-sweet taste. Sports dietitians use salted melon as a recovery snack because it replaces fluid and sodium lost in sweat. I tell the kids that water and salt are like best friends: You need sodium to help water stay in your muscles. Always pair them together.
—Jackie Barcal, head of nutrition at the IMG Academy, a boarding school and sports training facility



4

Wear long sleeves.

Surprisingly, it can be cooler to wear long sleeves and long pants than shorts and a tank top. You want loose-fitting clothing in light colors to reflect the sun and keep it from heating your skin. Go with cotton or linen, which breathe well but also hold moisture (unlike a synthetic, quick-drying fabric). They will keep your sweat close to the body, and as it evaporates, it cools you. Evaporation is a very cheap and very effective way to cool off. Of course it makes the most sense in a dry heat, like in Death Valley, where I live. This might not work as well in South Florida.
—Abby Wines, management assistant at Death Valley National Park and a resident of Death Valley, California, which holds the world record for the highest-recorded air temperature

5

Find a breeze—or make one.

Even on a 90-degree day in Miami Beach, it’s not that bad when you have an ocean breeze. You can also bring a battery-operated fan, something small and portable. And as someone who has seen a lot of heat exhaustion hit midday, I’ll say it’s not enough to start drinking fluids when you get to the beach or wherever you’re headed. You need to be hydrated before you go. Have lots of water with your breakfast—not coffee.
—Vinny Canosa, chief of Miami Beach Ocean Rescue