Most people I know love summer. I’ve got mixed feelings about the season. I do love summer holidays, the chance to play more and work less. But summer also means the risk of sunburn and bushfires. In Melbourne, you’re also likely to have at least a couple of over 40 degree days. Yuck. Here’s what I do to try and beat the heat.
Stop heat where you can
When I was a kid, we were taught to slip, slop, slap! (apparently now you also seek and slide). If you’re out and about, this is a great memory prompt for all the things you can do to protect yourself from the sun. Slip on some clothes (look for good skin coverage), slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on your sunnies.
My home on a summer day looks like I’m in mourning. I close all the curtains and blinds I have. I often close all the internal doors as well. The longer I can keep the heat out, the longer I can keep myself cool. It’s surprising how effective this is, even though I live in poorly insulated rentals.
In our current apartment, we were able to negotiate installation of external blinds. These blinds are great for our west-facing balcony with large windows. We hang them out on days over 30 degrees and they make a noticable difference to the temperature inside.
In previous rentals, I’ve tried attaching bubble wrap to windows. The idea is to create a basic version of double glazing. I found it hard to keep the bubble wrap adhered to the glass, so I was never able to confidently gauge how effective it was. I’d love to hear if you’ve tried this.
Simple cool downs
With the precautions above, I can get through a super hot day with little fuss. If the heat continues for another day, I pull out more tools.
Water is your best friend. Having a quick shower, especially if you wash your hair, is an effective way to cool down. Even a wipe down with a wet cloth will make a difference. Concentrate on your pulse points for quick relief. See if you can leave the water on your skin, rather than drying it off. This will keep you cooler for longer.
We’ve used a spray bottle for DIY evaporative cooling when on the move. I do wish spray bottle heads were better made, they always seem to break quickly. Has anyone had luck buying heavy duty heads? Do they last longer? We keep our icetrays topped up in the freezer for an instant cold drink when we get home. Icypoles are easy to make from juice, cordial or sweetened yoghurt.
Consider how you introduce heat to your home. In summer we cook as much as possible on my bbq outside. Early in summer mornings are still cool, so I’ll get any preparation for dinner done early while the heat can still dissipate. Otherwise, we choose no-cook or lesser heat dishes, like fresh rice paper rolls. I could probably expand on this topic, so I’ll write another post on it.
I hate hot summer nights. I find it so hard to get to sleep. I love the pedestal fan we have in our bedroom, it’s a must have! We got ours second hand from the friendly mob at Bright Sparks.
If the cool change comes, or even if it’s cooler outside than in, open your home up. Open curtains, windows and doors. Even better if you can create a path for air to move through the home and take the heat away.
If all else fails, retreat
Sometimes, the heat just keeps on coming. After three days of heat, my home is an oven no matter what I do. At this stage, try and be anywhere that’s cooler. That’s easier said than done, because everyone else will be doing the same thing! Try out the library or the museum. The movies or a swimming pool are also popular choices. Don’t forget the free or cheap bbqs in your local park for a cool summer meal.
In Melbourne, Warrandyte state park has the Yarra River running straight through it. Say what you want about the river in the city, here it is clean and cool. I’ve sat in it all day when the day is scorching.
When there’s a hot night on offer, check the minimum temperature for surrounding areas. Coastal areas are often cooler than the city. Do be mindful of fire danger. Check for warnings and have a plan for how you’d evacuate if conditions changed.
If you’re in the Southern hemisphere right now, I do hope you have a comfortable summer. What do you do to keep the heat off?