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How to Keep Cool: No Air Conditioning: Survive In Hot Weather with no aircon; 71 Tips to keep children and adults cool

Updated on January 17, 2013

Stay cool in a heatwave with an umbrella, a water bottle and light airy cotton clothing.

Stay cool: umbrella, cotton clothing. A simple life, freely chosen
Stay cool: umbrella, cotton clothing. A simple life, freely chosen | Source

What to do when the temps rise over 35C and you have no airconditioner?

Follow these 72 tips below, to stay comfortable and survive a heat wave.

  • I have lived through 10 super-heated Sydney summers with no air conditioning;
  • these 72 heat wave tips below worked for me, and may work for you;
  • I have also included a heat-wave shopping list.
  • in the current 40C plus Australian heat wave here's tip that works; buy transparent picnic water glasses, (usually about $2 for 20 in the birthday party section of the supermarket). Fill them ALL with water and fill a shelf in the fridge with these full glasses of water. That way you and your guests and family stay protected from dehydration and have cool water in a glass - instantly available. In the heat wave, save energy and throw the cups away, after use.
  • Things that go wrong in heat waves: looking at the news today I see the electricity substation at the Sydney nuclear plant caught on fire in 40C over load conditions. And in the heat - over 40C - heat in some parts of South Australia it was impossible to use petrol stations to fill a car as the petrol turned to gas - vaporized - before it got into the car tank.

Above about 35 to 40C, its too hot to think: Some people can cope better than others.

  • Some have great genes to survive very hot weather; dark skin, long, hairless, slim limbs, a wide nose, fuzzy hair, and immunity to malaria;
  • others develop techniques - desert people travel at night, wear turbans, and cover the whole body with long, light robesl and
  • some folks - like me - of mixed mongrel genes - make many small adjustments to daily routines.

4 tips on heat stroke

  1. Beware heat stroke: headache, and confusion, dizzy feelings and vomiting. This mean you are dehydrated and your body heat is too high. People die in heat waves. Drink water. Stay cool;
  2. Connect. Call your family. Talk with neighbors. Connect with others;
  3. Sports drinks - electrolyte replacement drinks - are good for heat-stroke, as is lots and lots of plain water;
  4. Watch for heat exhaustion: heavy sweating, paleness, cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, fainting - solution is rest and lots and lots of water. If it does not get better in an hour after lots of water - 2 liters - its time to call the ambulance or go the hospital.

Pale coloured cotton for the Algerian heat

Wafts of pale cotton can keep you cool
Wafts of pale cotton can keep you cool | Source

23 tips for when you go outside in a heat wave

  1. No car? In the day - if this works for you - leave home early and go to an air conditioned bus, to an air-conditioned space; a library, church, supermarket, movie house, mall or art gallery, or a maybe a bar. But, drink water, not alcohol, at the bar.
  2. Keep out of direct sun. During the 1995 Midwest heat wave, most deaths happened to people who were not in air conditioned places;
  3. If you have no car, and you go out; don't carry parcels or heavy shopping;
  4. take the pram, with shade for toddlers. Hats for children, too.
  5. wear a cotton or straw of cloth hat with a big brim. If you get really hot, pour water on the hat;
  6. avoid exhaustion on hot days. It can lead to heat stroke;
  7. if you get a headache or feel ill, it may be early signs of heatstroke. Drink electrolyte drinks
  8. but don't drink drinks with sugar in them;
  9. Take a shopping trundler. Fill up water bottles before you leave home;.
  10. Take a little extra water. (someone else may need it);
  11. Lie down under a tree in a park in the shade. Slow down;
  12. expect power cuts; power stations, and other parts of the grid, may fail;
  13. avoid trains. They use electricity and in a power cut, may stop in a tunnel; if you have no choice but to use a train - don't get on the first one that comes; wait for an air conditioned train. These are the more modern ones, (a train guard told me you can tell its got aircon if the windows are closed).
  14. choose a cool place to go, to on a non-electric bus route; chose a bus with air con;
  15. Avoid city canyons and low lying places, due to higher risk of air pollution;
  16. wear only older comfortable shoes. Avoid buying or wearing new shoes;
  17. In very hot weather a foot infection can quickly turn into a life-threatening issue;
  18. wear cotton socks. Put talculm powder in your socks, and any place you sweat. This is made from corn flour. You may find cornflour cheaper than talculm powder.
  19. use an umbrella when outdoors in the sun. It's a portable shadow;
  20. avoid sunburn. Wear sunscreen, a straw hat and long sleeves;
  21. carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go;
  22. if the tap water is safe in your city, refill your bottles at taps, fountains and bathroom sinks;
  23. shade children in prams against direct heat, offer them constant water;
  24. Supplement breast-fed babies, with teaspoons of cool boiled water;
  25. If you are breast feeding - you will need vast amounts of water. More then other people;.
  26. avoid salt, alcohol, sugared drinks, drink plain water;
  27. avoid excess activity, long journeys with heavy bags; and
  28. pour a whole bottle of water over yourself, if you feel too hot. It works. The average adult loses 30 per cent of body heat from their head. So cool your head and it cools the rest of you.
  29. If you need to go somewhere, choose an air conditioned taxi, if you can;
  30. take lots of cool showers and change your clothes each time.

Rich folks head for the hills in the hot season

History shows us, in hot parts of the world, rich folks move to the hills in the hot season.
In India for example, for thousands of years, elites on the plains in the North, routinely moved to the cooler mountains in the summer.
Many people today live in two places in the year: They chose a temperature. It's usually called a ‘holiday’. People in hot places go to cooler places; people in cold places go to hotter places.

  • For example, in India, ruling groups traveled from Delhi up mountain trails to the high country; to Simla.
  • Further south, Tamil royalty and government moved to palaces in the mountains of Kodaikanal for summer.

Invention of air conditioning changed pattern of civilization: After air-con, people no longer had to take the whole court, the whole government, to the mountains They could govern - and stay healthy in the cool.

6 tips for the bathroom and laundry in a heat wave

  1. Use talcum power on your body to avoid heat rash;
  2. put sheets and towels in the washing machine on cold cycle, and the spin cycle and take them out and put them around the house - over a chair, on the couch. You can lie down or sit on them;
  3. the evaporation will cool the house and cool you, too.
  4. Keep stacks of stacks of clean dry towels ready in the bathroom, as lots and lots of cool showers are the thing to do in a heat wave;
  5. hang washing inside the house;
  6. things will dry fast; so when you wash towels, just fold them lengthwise and hang them on a clothes hanger, and hang them on any hook or rail inside the house, to dry. Top of the doors, for example. Back of chairs. Cupboard knobs. Blinds. Or use a clothes drying rack. As wet things evaporate, they will cool the house; and
  7. same with sheets. Don’t dry them outside, drape them over the furniture and beds to dry. This will bring the house temp down, fast.

5 tips for personal cooling

  1. Get a spray spritz bottle, fill it with water and spray your face and body - the evaporation will cool you. Do the same for little children;.
  2. drape a rolled towel over your neck and pour a bottle of water on the towel;
  3. Shower often, and put fresh wet - or dry clothes, on after the shower; and
  4. If its very hot, wear wet clothes straight out of the spin dryer; its very cooling, as it will evaporate, on you.
  5. carry a fine cloth - like a baby muslin, or a tea towel, wet it, wring it out; and then drape it over your head or body. As the water evaporates, it will cool you;
  6. A Greek tip: if you have long hair, wash it, and then plait tightly.

3 tips on infections in heat waves

  1. expect many small infections in hot weather;
  2. wash your hands often, as bugs breed faster in hot weather; and
  3. treat even the smallest nick or scratch or blister right away, with say - an earbud or artists paint brush dipped in liquid iodine - or whatever infection combat method you prefer.

Tip: use liquid iodine and small paint brush to treat small skin infections in hot weather

7 tips to keep your living spaces cool: close the blinds

  1. Close all curtains, and angle blinds to keep sun out;
  2. Turn on a fans. Turn on any extractor fans;
  3. Open windows on the cooler side;
  4. Close windows on the hotter side;
  5. Get a container of water and go around the house and sprinkle water on all the textiles - beds, couches, curtains - (not plastic and leather) with water. The evaporation will bring the temperature down markedly. You can also add a drop of lavender oil or veriver oil to the water. Vetiver is a traditional Indian “cooling” scent; and
  6. use just plain water to water the patio or any concrete spaces near doors; then, cooler air will flow into the house
  7. if you have no water restrictions, put on a lawn sprinkler (Let children play in it, and stand in yourself). Let children play with the garden hose.
    If you are a technical type install irrigation mist spray piping around patios, near doors. This can dramatically any cool rooms when doors are open to patios or verandahs. And water the plants at the same time.

How to survive a heat wave without air conditioning


  • get out some cash and store it - after a power failure, cards may not work.
  • torch;
  • torch batteries;
  • water containers, if you don’t have them; 2 litre drink bottles.
  • water (if your tap water is not drinkable);
  • laundry power or liquid supplies, as you will need to do more washing;
  • fans, if you don’t have them; I find oscillating pedestal fans work best;
  • fruit of all kinds; and
  • spray spritz bottles.


  • sports drinks “electrolyte replacements”;
  • for children - “electrolyte replacement” ice blocks;
  • small container of liquid iodine;
  • ear buds or a small paint brush to put iodine on any small cuts;
  • band aids;
  • Cotton clothing. Cotton sheets. Try the op shop. (Check the labels in the side seam for what it’s made from);
  • talc powder;
  • big umbrella with a long handle; and
  • shopping trundler - so you don't get exhausted carrying shopping bags home.

The first 14 tips to survive the heat wave at home (more below)

  1. Rise in the dark; do core work, before the sun rises;
  2. you may find it hard to sleep, anyhow, as a heat wave usually brings very high overnight temperatures, as well as day time temperatures;
  3. by 7 am it may be too hot to think; so, do thinking-tasks early; write lists at dawn
  4. stay indoors if you can, but if your house is uncool-able, go to a public space with shade and air con for the hottest part of the day - usually 10am - 6 pm; try libraries, art galleries, shopping malls, foyers of big buildings, churches, community meeting places.
  5. make the bed with wet linen, straight out of the spin dryer. It cools the room, as it evaporates;
  6. live down stairs. Hot air rises. Lower floors may prove cooler;
  7. drink lots and lots of water: line up bottles in the fridge and aim to drink about 2 to 4 liters a day;
  8. if you can, sleep in the high-heat of the afternoon;
  9. take cool showers, as many times a day as you need it;
  10. keep containers of ice water, with a face cloth to dab on your face;
  11. fill bin of ice water and cool your feet. That works, too;
  12. stay in the shade;.
  13. rinse your hair and leave it wet; and
  14. if you have children, let them play with water, to cool down;
  15. marble floors. Yes, it works! But probably an option for millionaires

Just turn on the air con; and rule from a cool, high-rise ziggaurat:

For an example of city built on air conditioning - look at Dubai. Temps can hit 50C. But Dubai works with air con, powered by electricity made with low-cost local oil.
New super-cities in hot places: From the invention of air con sprang super-cities in hot places; Dubai, for example - a city of air conditioned towers.
35 - 40ºC and above a succession of days we call a "heat wave": But what about a big city powered with imported, high-price oil? That's a new kind of problem.
Prepare for sudden blackouts in heatwaves; Here's why; air conditioning increases electricity demand, in sharp spikes. A three day heatwave can set demand up high. Some electricity equipment can't work over 30C; and many bits of the network begin to fail, at temps over over 30C.
Cascade failures of the electricity system: Then, it get can worse much worse; gas turbines can’t run, big power-station cooling-pond temperatures get too high; water-cooled coal - power electricity stations must turn-off. For example EPA rules say - if the cooling water pumped to a river gets too hot, fish die. It's against the law to kill the fish. The power station must stop. That's one of the conflicts; ways heatwaves can cause cascade electricity failures, and blackouts, for whole cities. A sudden failure or one power station, can then send a surge through the grid. That surge, fries other bits of the network. Local substations can explode. So - expect local blackouts - as well as city-wide blackouts. Prepare. Water and sewerage, and electronic lock systems and lifts may fail. Banks systems may fail. Money-machines may not work.

11 tips on a low-cost solution - fans

  1. Get fans. Locate these around the house to get the air flowing;
  2. put a bowl of water in front of each fan;
  3. have a fan blowing in one window, and another fan blowing out the other;
  4. move fans, as the sun moves, to keep cooler air flowing. I like standing, oscillating, pedestal fans;
  5. fans in higher places are best, or fans on a stand, Avoid a fan on the floor, it spreads dust;
  6. (note: some blow heaters have a cool setting, so check your heaters. They may act as fans);
  7. change door and window openings as the day goes on to keep the coolest air flowing;
  8. close the doors on the hot side, open those on the cool side;
  9. wear lots of light, loose cotton. Avoid synthetics and too-tight clothing;
  10. when it comes to bed linen, cotton is essential. Synthetics just make things worse; and
  11. sleep with a fan on. It also keeps the mozzies off.

8 tips on food and water in a heat wave

  1. Avoid cooking hot food;
  2. avoid bringing new heat into the kitchen. Avoid the stove and the oven;
  3. but; eat any frozen food first, as it will be of no value after a power cut;
  4. prefer fruit and salad - whatever is in season in your part of the world; melons, grapes, oranges, grapes, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, it's all good;
  5. water systems may fail after a power cut. Prepare what you need for a water and power cut. Torches, for example; buckets for water.
  6. put all blackout things in an easy to find place;
  7. stock up with water. Fill containers from the tap and fill the fridge; and
  8. fill other clean containers with water and store them.
  9. fill glasses or cups with water and fill a fridge shelf with rows glasses of water; that way its easy to quickly provide a cool glass of water to friends or family.


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    Post Comment
    • claudiafox profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Glad you find this experience useful. Stay cool!

    • louromano profile image


      6 years ago

      I find many useful information here. Thanks for sharing.

    • claudiafox profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Hope it helps keep you cool. I have just fixed the typos, too. And added one more tip - heatwaves bring power blackouts. Banks may not work so get out some cash and store it. Blackouts tend to come after 3 day heatwaves.

    • Francesca27 profile image


      7 years ago from Hub Page

      You gave such important information that's just right for the current heatwave. Thank you so much. I will follow you now. I know how much time and effort it took to write this hub.


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