Beating Summer Heat
Too Hot to Pull Weeds
The dog days of summer are here, heat waves and droughts seem to be the new normal for the world. Science deniers suffer just as much as those of us who believe in research and data, Here in sunny Florida the average humidity runs from about 60 percent in the afternoon to as high as 90 percent in the morning, damn that dew! A couple of years ago I decided to start growing my own vegetables, I avoid the high cost, the pesticides, fungicides and genetically modified Franken Foods that line the shelves of our supermarkets. The trouble is, by the time we get to the "Dog Days" it is too hot to work in the garden. Anyone who grows in Florida will tell you that the middle of summer is not gardening season. I look at my garden and see an ocean of weeds surrounding some vegetables that are dying of heat stroke.
There is no way to avoid it, I must get out there and get rid of the weeds. We have two distinct gardening seasons in this part of Florida, spring and fall, with some overlap into winter and summer. It is time to get ready to plant my fall garden, I already started seeds in the house under grow lights but what can I do to stay cool?
Filtered tap water or plastic bottles
Hydration is Water
Hydration has become a buzz word, maybe we all feel a bit more sophisticated when we say "Stay well hydrated" instead of drink a lot of water. Now that we have established my sophistication bona fides, it is important to drink lots of water, or stay well hydrated.
Okay, water, plain old tap water is all we need to stay hydrated. Perhaps you are a more decadent type of consumer and with your sophisticated palate, you demand imported water. You're in luck; there are hundreds of brands of bottled water on the market, all waiting to take a little out of your wallet. In local stores, I see water from France, Iceland, Italy, Germany, Maine and my favorite, shipped from the other side of the planet, to come all the way from Fiji. Then of course, there are the brands that sell tap water from municipal supplies like Dasani and Aquafina. We surely do need to drink plenty of water but do we also need to consume estrogen like chemicals called BPA? Manufacturers are still producing billions of bottles every year that leach BPA into our water and food. Then there is also the issue of using petroleum and discarding tons of plastic debris into landfills and oceans. Tap water in the US is the safest supply of drinking water on the planet. Drinking tap water saves you money, may save your health and saves the environment for our kids. If you worry about contaminants, you can use a water filter.
How much water should I drink? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. Obviously, these amounts will vary tremendously depending on your amount of physical activity and climate. The old meme about needing to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day isn't supported by hard evidence; it remains popular because it's easy to remember. If you buy your water in a convenience store, you could easily spend 4 thousand dollars a year to drink what others get from the tap, almost for free.
Fiji will be glad to ship water to you
Who wants American water when you can ship water from Fiji
Sports drinks and electrolytes
Sports drinks contain electrolytes (mostly potassium and sodium) and sugars to replenish what the body has lost through sweating. These drinks are supposed to bring the levels of minerals in your blood closer to their normal levels. I suggest that you need to drink the same sports drink that your ancestors did when they worked on the farm. Wait, you mean that our ancestors survived without Gatorade? Yeah, there are no statues of Julius Caesar holding a sports drink and still he conquered Gaul and became dictator of Rome. When Napoleon said, "an Army marches on its stomach", electrolytes had not been discovered and still Napoleon ravaged Europe. Modern science and Capitalism has learned how to separate you from your money. Perhaps the truth lies in the fact that our ancestors did not try to exist on packaged foods and refined grains so that they got their electrolytes from their diet. Still there is some evidence that sports drinks can help athletes. Most nutritionists agree that sports drinks only become beneficial once your workout extends past 60 minutes.
Spicy Foods will make you sweat
Proper clothing and Spicy Foods
Proper clothing is a must when working outside. Wear cotton not synthetics because cotton will act like a wick, drawing moisture away from the skin. Next, wear a hat to keep the sun off your face, protecting your eyes from UV rays and adding a little bit of cool shade on your face. Placing a cold, wet cloth in your hat can provide some additional cooling, even some ice wrapped in a washcloth and stuffed in your hat can keep you cool for an hour.
In my writing about world cuisines I point out that, the world’s warmest places like Africa, Mexico and every place near the equator serve the hottest foods. Eating spicy foods cools you down by making your face sweat. This is a known phenomenon called “gustatory facial sweating” makes your skin feel cooled by the evaporation of sweat. Unfortunately, this doesn't work well in high humidity. Eating large meals spikes your metabolism and generates heat so to keep your cool eat smaller meals and eat more often.
What Have I Learned?
So far, I've learned that to stay cool I need to dress properly, eat some Mexican food and drink a lot of water. I can't imagine why I would need help at sweating, all I have to do is go outside when it is 90 degrees with high humidity and I will start sweating. Part of dealing with the heat is simple acclimatization. On my first trip from NH to Florida, I spent a day in the sun doing the tourist thing and when I went out for dinner, I collapsed from heat exhaustion. My body just wasn't used to that much heat. There must be some gadgets or tricks that I can use beyond lugging around an air conditioner. A simple Google for personal cooling products yields a wealth of things to buy.
Enter the famous Endura Towel. This is another example of cooling by evaporation. Reviews are mixed and if you live in a humid place like Florida, this towel is unlikely to perform its miracle. There are Endura Cool arm sleeves, hats, headbands and towels on their web site. On the other hand, you might try a dishcloth soaked in cool water; if that keeps you cool cooling towels would probably work well for you.
Cooling vests and shirts, these work with freezer packs and may keep you cool for up to 4 hours. When the ice melts you will start to warm up.
Image offers a battery powered fan that wraps around your neck to provide a cool
breeze, reviews are mixed.
There is a variety of devices that turn water into a fine mist to cool the air
around you and provide evaporative cooling. Again, these products work best in
a low humidity environment.
Personal cooling bandanas contain absorbent acrylic polymer activates which
swells when soaked in cold water. This still depends on evaporation for cooling
but you can get some benefit by soaking this in cold water. Cooling your blood
does help. This is done by cooling your pulse points, a cold bandana around
your neck cools the blood going to your head, running cool water over your
wrists or any place where blood vessels are close to the skin also helps to
cool your blood.