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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Monday, August 06, 2007

In the Cool

This dog is in the cool! How do you stay cool? We live in South Carolina. Our climate is made up of 2 months of cold and 10 months of warm-too hot. In the summer it's HOT! We have high humidity which makes it feel somewhat like a steam bath in July and August. Southerners keep cool any way they can. Back in the days before air conditioning there were several things they did to keep cool.
  • High ceilings (because heat rises)
  • Transoms over doors (these are like windows over door that open so you can get air movement and yet still retain privacy)
  • High windows that remained open, some of these windows were so large they could be used like doors.
  • Porches, especially on the sunny sides of the house (which led to wraparound porches on some houses) to keep the sun out of the windows.
  • Fans. In the days before electricity the wealthy relied on servant's children to fan for air movement and to keep flies away (open windows and no screens led to flies and mosquitos in the house). After electricity there were electric fans.
  • Cold and refreshing drinks. You've heard of iced tea, lemonade, mint juleps, etc? When you had ice, you used it in drinks to help keep your body temperature down.
  • Lighter meals.
  • Taking the afternoon off. It's the hottest time of day and you took a rest period at that time of day. After the afternoon rest, your day picked back up and you didn't eat supper until 8:00pm.
  • Conserving energy during the hottest times of the day. Moving slower. If you had to work during the hot afternoon, then you worked slower to conserve your energy or you would get heat exhaustion.
  • The use of fabrics like cotton to wick moisture away from the body. Another reason why cotton was king in the South.
  • Fans. Any public gathering such as a church service, funerals, concerts, they handed out paper fans, some with advertisements on them.
  • Trips to the mountains in the summer. For everyone who could, they headed to the high ground for the hottest months. This is why summer homes, boardinghouses and resorts in the mountains were popular. Air conditioning made the beaches a popular summer vacation spot in our day, but before then, it was the mountains.
At my age, keeping cool is necessary. I rarely get cold any more, but I often get too hot, flushed. I started having hot flashes about 10 yrs ago. My hormone pills just suddenly quit working and I was having 2-3 hot flashes an hour around the clock. I've never read of any woman having that many but I did! We worked around and around until we got it somewhat under control. But I still stayed hot all the time...not just flashes. We have to keep our air conditioning on 69 to keep me cool enough to function. This is better than the last couple of years when I had to keep it on 67-68 to keep me cool. At night I have to have a fan blowing on me because of night sweats. I would go to someone else's house and literally have to go outside to cool down because they kept their temp at 72. I told my brother-in-law I wanted him to make me a chair for his house...with a seat made from a box fan! Sometime this summer it seemed God flipped the switch and I'm not so hot all the time. I get hot like normal people in 90 weather but NOT sweltering in 70 degree weather! I'm so thankful that I've finally reached the end of that. I'm so thankful for air conditioning, for hormone pills, that God finally flipped my switch back to normal, for electric fans. How in the world women stood menopause before air conditioning I don't know!

Here are some tips on keeping cool:

  • Don't use your oven. This heats up a kitchen. Try to make cold meals or quick cook meals. Salads, sandwiches, cold soups, cold cuts, take outs.
  • Cold drinks. Always have a water pitcher in your refrigerator (a lot of refrigerators have ice and cool water on the doors), juices, tea, lemonade, Koolaid, Gatorade. You have to stay hydrated in the heat and having cold drinks ready in the refrigerator encourages us to go grab one.
  • During the winter months you can plan ahead and use your freezer. Make some meals and put them in the freezer so, when the weather gets too hot, you've got things already to make quick meals. Take them out to thaw,
  • Cook outside. Grill a lot (and grill some things for the freezer so you can enjoy that grilled taste even in the winter). Use a deep fryer or griddle or George Foreman grill outside. This keeps your house cool. Remember to do this in the evening when it's not so hot outside.
  • Use ceiling fans to keep air flowing.
  • If possible, take a nap in the afternoon when it's the hottest. My Dad has practised this all his life. Whenever he could he took a nap after lunch. If he couldn't do that, he took one as soon as he got home. Just 15-30 mins of quiet, rest and relaxation. Whenever you lay down and rest, it conserves your energy, your body doesn't have to work as much and this saves on body heat. Your body literally slows down and cools down. The hot afternoon is NOT the time to jog, or practise other outdoor sports! I wish schools would learn this. It would be better to have practise time at 6pm rather than 3pm.
  • Take cool showers or baths. This saves on hot water costs but it cools your body down. This is especially effective if you realize you are too hot, sweating, blood pressure rising. A cool shower or bath will bring your body temperature back down.
  • Keep a small cooler of ice with a washcloth and some water when you have to be outside doing yard work. This gives you a cool rag for your head and some cold water to bring your body temperature back down.
  • Plant some trees. Careful planting can give you good shade in the summer and sun during the cold of winter. We're in a house that was planned well. We have shade in the summer but the winter sun can warm us.
  • My house has a patio, a deck, a porch and a screened in porch. So I have an outside area for nearly every temperature except the worst heat and the worst cold. We have swings, comfortable chairs and tables, some umbrellas so we can enjoy relaxing outdoors unless it's really hot or cold.
  • Do slow stretches for exercising, such as yoga. Or take water aerobics or swimming. These are hot weather exercises that don't raise your body heat. If you have to do more intense exercising then do it in the early morning or the late evening. Be sure and wear reflective clothing and BE SAFE! But jogging in the heat is ridiculous. Go to a school track around 7pm and jog. Much more comfortable.

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