Staying Cool During Extreme Heat: Crucial Tips as Extreme Weather Escalates

image of the sun over a city skyline

As the realities of climate change continue to make their mark on our planet, increasingly frequent and intense heat waves have become a new normal for many regions worldwide. The city of Phoenix set a 31-day record of days with temperatures over 110 degrees, and Maui's iconic Lahaina town, once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, was entirely wiped out and reduced to ashes by wildfires caused by extreme drought conditions. The global thermostat isn't just inching upwards; it's taking big leaps, and it's imperative to adapt to this changing climate.

While global policymakers and environmentalists grapple with the broader challenges, at an individual level, finding ways to stay cool has become critical. Drawing inspiration from both modern-day solutions as well as traditional methods, here are some tips and tricks to help you keep the heat at bay:

 Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Sweating is our body’s natural way to cool down, but it also means we're losing essential fluids.
  • Have some electrolyte drinks at hand, or fix yourself a suero with ingredients you might already have on your fridge – just some carbonated water, limes, and salt to help you rehydrate.
  • Avoid sugary, alcoholic, or caffeinated beverages, as they can cause dehydration.
  • Watch out for signs of dehydration, such as feeling dizzy or lightheaded, headaches, overall tiredness, and having a dry mouth, lips, and eyes.

 Stay Indoors During Peak Heat

  • When possible, avoid going out between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is at its peak.
  • If you need to be outdoors, seek shade regularly, take breaks, and don’t forget to hydrate.

Keep Your Home Cool

  • Open your windows during the cooler parts of the day (early morning and late evening) to let the cool air in and close them, drawing the curtains or blinds, during the peak heat.
  • Create natural shade. Consider planting large-leaf plants or tall trees outdoors that offer some shade. Opt for potted plants to cool your indoor spaces, balconies, or patios.
  • Even a basic fan can make a significant difference in circulating air from room to room and making your house feel cooler.
  • If the heat is too much to handle at home during peak hours, consider spending some time in air-conditioned public places such as malls or libraries.

Lower Your Body Temperature

  • Use cooling towels, neck wraps, or handheld fans. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; a hand towel drenched in cold water will do. Take them with you when you go outside.
  • Placing cool cloths or ice packs on pulse points like wrists, neck, and ankles can help lower your body temperature. Remember abuela putting a wet trapo on her neck while gardening? She knew what’s up.
  • Misting sprays can also offer relief when it's sweltering. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the fridge. A quick spritz can be refreshing!

 Wear Light and Loose Clothing

  • Wear clothes made from natural fabrics that help your skin breathe, such as cotton, linen, silk, hemp, rayon, and chambray. Wearing loose clothing also allows for better airflow to keep you cooler.
  • Opt for light colors like white and beige, as they reflect sunlight and absorb less heat.
  • Hats with wide brims can protect your face and neck from direct sun exposure.

Take Cool Showers or Baths

  • Taking a cool shower can quickly bring down your body temperature, especially after spending time outdoors. Just make sure to adjust the water temperature gradually to avoid shocking your system as you transition from hot to cold.
  • Inspired by the ‘pila’ – a large, often outdoor, sink or wash basin common in rural areas of Latin America – set up a small inflatable pool or even just soak your feet in a basin of cool water. It's a quick way to cool down and relax.

Limit Physical Activity

  • If you can, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or late evening.
  • Remember, the body produces more heat during physical activities, so take it easy and avoid breaking a sweat when possible.

Seal Your Home

  • Block out the sun by using blackout curtains, shades, or reflective window films.
  • Ensure that your home is adequately insulated to prevent the entry of excess heat and to retain cool air inside.

Opt for No-Cook Meals

  • Cooking can heat up your home considerably. On very hot days, consider opting for salads, sandwiches, and other no-cook meals. Ceviche is a perfect example. It's delicious, refreshing, and doesn't require turning on the stove! Just say no to that summer caldo.

Stay Informed

  • Monitor local weather updates and heat advisories. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it can keep you safe.

The increasing heatwaves aren't just uncomfortable; they can be dangerous. It's essential to take precautions and employ whatever strategies we can to keep cool.

As the world grapples with the broader impacts of climate change, remember that a little planning and some simple tricks can go a long way in ensuring you and your loved ones remain safe and comfortable.

Uvalde mayoral candidate headshot, a campaign sign that says Vote Yes on Issue 1 and the outline of the state of virginia

U.S. general elections happen every single year in November. The reality of election turnout in the U.S. means that during non-presidential election years, many voters decide not to vote leaving the outcome of pivotal races to be decided by a small percentage of people.

This means that high-profile issues of consequence also don’t get the attention of the everyday person as much as they do when media coverage and ad spending as in a frenzy, resulting in elections making their way into everyday conversation.

Despite the lower profile nature of the 2023 non-presidential election, feminist issues made their way to ballots nationwide represented by candidates who made abortion, reproductive health, and gun safety central to their campaigns.

In South Texas, Gun Safety Doesn’t Rally the Vote

The most high profile of the gun advocates on the ballot was Kimberly Mata-Rubio, mother of slain elementary student Lexi Rubio who died during the 212th mass shooting of 2022 that left 19 kids and 2 teachers dead in Uvadle, Texas.

In Uvalde’s first mayoral race since the Robb Elementary School shooting, Mata-Rubio came up short, losing to the former Uvalde mayor, Cody Smith. More than a year after yet another young white male with an AR-style rifle changed the Uvalde community forever, Mata-Rubio campaigned on unifying the small town. Her candidacy made her one of Uvalde’s most outspoken voices advocating for stricter gun laws.

After poll results were released, Mata-Rubio said via X, “I’ll never stop fighting for you, Lexi. I meant it when I said this was only the beginning. After all, I’m not a regular mom. I’m Lexi’s mom.”

Smith previously served two terms as Uvalde mayor when he was first elected in 2008. Smith took the opposite approach on the issue and campaigned on bringing the community together and made no express mention of the shooting in any campaign materials.

“All of us wanted the same thing — we want this community to heal,” Smith told reporters after votes were tallied, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The general sentiment from the community revealed that there is a deep divide in Uvalde between residents who say they want to move past the tragedy and those who are still demanding answers and accountability.

Abortion Continues to Rally Voters Across America

More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, pro-abortion advocates continued their winning streak in states where abortion was a central campaign issue.

In Virginia, abortion wasn't directly on the ballot but it was an important issue that Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin explicitly advocated against. The Governor supports a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks, with some exceptions, and aggressively campaigned with Republicans to try to win control of both houses of the Virginia legislature.

Democrats rallied and successfully took control of the state House of Delegates while maintaining control of the state Senate. Abortion rights supporters campaigned heavily so that Democrats could then block Youngkin from working to pass abortion bans and repeal gun safety laws.

In Ohio, abortion is now a constitutional right. The Issue 1 ballot measure amends the state constitution guaranteeing every person in Ohio the right “to one’s own reproductive medical treatment, including but not limited to abortion.” It also prevents the state from “burdening, penalizing or prohibiting” those rights — though it specifies that abortion will remain prohibited after the point a doctor judges a fetus would most likely survive birth, with exceptions to protect the woman’s life or health.

The success of the Ohio ballot measure is yet another victory for abortion-rights advocates. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ballot measures backing abortion rights have won in every election so far, even in conservative states, including Kentucky and Kansas.

In another sign that Kentucky voters are in support of the right to abortion and bodily autonomy, Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, won reelection after facing off against the state's Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, who opposes abortion rights and has defended Kentucky’s current strict abortion laws in court.

Beshear's campaign released a powerful political ad that featured a young woman who talked about her experience as a victim of rape by her stepfather at the age 12 and who later miscarried. She highlighted that Kentucky's current abortion law contains no rape or incest exceptions, saying, "Anyone who believes there should be no exceptions for rape and incest could never understand what it's like to stand in my shoes."

In Pennsylvania, Dan McCaffery won an open seat on the state Supreme Court after positioning himself as a defender of abortion rights. Court seats are non-partisan; however, as judges are increasingly more willing to interpret laws through their political views, instead of as non-biased arbiters of the law, partisanship and positions on issues are becoming more common. McCaffery, who is a former Philadelphia judge and prosecutor, campaigned as a defender of abortion rights and other rights that he said Democrats had fought for but were under attack by the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority.