“Come to Sunny Sydney”, they say. “The weather is gorgeous,” they say.
Well THEY should come and see my maidenhair fern – reduced to a crackled mess, the lawn feels like astro-turf, all the doors and windows are closed and blinds drawn even though it’s midday and there is going to be a mutiny tonight when I serve salad for dinner. On the upside, at last I have a heated pool.
The local temperature is apparently 38 degrees Celsius outside. A very humid 38. I don’t believe it. It feels like 45. The bricks are baking (so am I) and I can almost see a mirage on my deck, where my impatiens look they’re in need of Viagra. The Blue Tongued Lizard that usually suns itself lazily outside my front door has more brains than my neighbour…..it’s gone deep into the dark, damp drain to wait it out, while my neighbour is spraying her plants in a futile attempt at keeping them alive – I can feel the man-made sauna effect from here!
In other inner parts of the state of NSW I hear it is up to 48 degrees Celsius. For Other-worlders, that’s a balmy 118.4 degrees Fahrenheit. How pleasant. Sydney is different though, it’s humid here. When it gets hot you can cut the air with a knife. We SydneySiders are a bit poonsie about temperature – a bit of deviation from the average diurnal range of 18 to 27 degrees Celsius and we all get a bit grumpy. Yet not all of us have air conditioners ….we don’t want to ADMIT that we’re hot, after all, that’s un-Australian. Hot is just part of the deal.
Many will be taking advantage of the local geography in Sydney – over 100 beautiful
beaches, some within 10km from the CBD. I hope they’re watching out for bluebottles -(our little tentacled, fair-weathered friends) and skin cancer! SLIP, SLOP, SLAP…(for those not familiar with our mantra – Slip on a shirt, Slop on some sunscreen, and Slap on a hat). I, for one, do not want 3rd degree burns on the bottom of my feet from the Hot Sand Dance from car to shore. I’ll wait it out.
Meanwhile…that night…..the worst was yet to come….the mercury didn’t dip below 28 all night, and at the time of writing it was a delightful 30 point something degrees at 12am. What the hell?
Why was I up at 12.06am? Why do you think. I’m lying in bed trying to visualise my happy, cool place. I’m thinking the Amazon Jungle or the Namib Desert would seem quite pleasant right now. Thank God for fans – hot air being forced in your face is better than nothing. I went outside. Pretty sure you could still fry an egg on my back deck tiles.
OK – SO WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE HOT? Ideas from the obvious to the insane, fun to old fashioned…but they all work!
15 Great ideas to cool you off in hot weather.
- As early as possible – best around 5-6am, close all the doors and windows. Draw any blinds, curtains or shutters, and seal off your home, unit, or flat as well as you can from external air. It seems a bit stupid at first, but by 9am you’ll begin to tell the difference. By midday you’ll be laughing. The closed shades are just an extra layer of insulation against your windows. If you’ve ever put your hands on a window glass in the summer, you’ll see how hot they can get. Put out any awnings or shades you have.
- The pool is the obvious one, but it should be in the shade….Or with plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and a rash vest. If you are not near a pool let kids play under a sprinkler, in the shade only.
- To lower your core temperature sit in a cool bath, or have a cool shower. For kids, a bath is fantastic – let them sit in it with their clothes on for a bit of fun. Or add a few drops of food colouring to the bathwater to make a pink or green bath! For babies and young toddlers, put them in the full kitchen sink. My toddlers loved to sit on the draining board with their feet in the sink, a few plastic cups and the tap on a thin stream.
**NB for any water activities with children, full time, on the spot supervision is necessary.
If you have an electric fan – use it. To increase efficiency an old fashioned idea is to make a DIY evaporative cooler – wet a sheet or towel, and set it across the front of the fan (not right over it) so that the fan blows through the wet fabric, making it cooler. This used to be done in country hospitals where there was no air-con in the old days.
- Make Iceblocks – or have your kids do it. Any small container will do, ice trays, small plastic cups (disposable ones are perfect), plastic shot cups…. use lemonade, cordial, fruit juice. Put toothpicks in the little containers for a ‘stick’ or pop sticks if you have them. I’ve been known to go on a walk and collect ‘actual’ sticks from the bush and use them…the kids thought it was great!
- Place a lightly wrung wet washer or handtowel in a ziplock plastic bag in the fridge. When it’s cold use it on your neck, lap, feet, forehead or hands to cool you off. Give kids a frozen face washer to play with, they think it’s funny. If you have two or three on the go, there’s always a cold one. If you have one of those athletic cold packs, they’re great too!
Freeze fruit – we love to freeze pineapple rings, orange segments, and grapes. For pineapple rings put some baking paper between the rings, on a plate to catch rogue juice and freeze. For oranges – peel, cut into segments and freeze, and for grapes…nothing! easy, just freeze, they’re delicious and FANTASTIC in drinks for kids or adults.
- Avoid alcohol – it might seem cooling, but it’s dehydrating. Drink water. Make sure your kids and elders do too.
- A wet or cold (from fridge) teatowel around your neck is a great way to keep cool if you’re on the move in your car or around the house. Your neck has veins close to the surface of your skin, and the cooling effect is much more efficient on your head or neck. Similarly a wet towel on your lap, with a fan on, is a great idea for older people sitting down.
- Stay on the lowest floor – it might sound obvious but heat rises, so if you have a lower floor to your home, stay there. The difference might be one or two degrees, but it will feel like five! Internal sheds, Garages, and storerooms are often cooler if they’re concrete and under a house. So…take a magazine and your lunch and eat it there!
NIGHT TIME TIPS:
- Try keeping lights off as much as possible, try not to use heating appliances like kettles, ovens, toasters and microwaves. Don’t eat hot meals or drinks, serve salad, cold meat and fruit instead. Then have an iceblock!!
- Sleep in your coolest gear -…or not! Let kids sleep in their undies. Stick with cotton as opposed to your slinky gear, poly’s and nylons are non breathing and HOT!
- Fans with a timer are great, turn it onto the max time…usually 2 hours. That’s often enough time to get you to sleep.
- For really hot nights have a cool bath, shower or swim before bed to lower your core temperature.
- Sleep with a damp sheet, damp towel over you, or a frozen washer, Cold Pack, or a hotwater bottle filled with ice water.Night Night….the temperature has dropped to ONLY 28.2. I’m going to cuddle up with an icepack. 😀