Mwa ha ha! As nothing! Temps here have run upwards of 112, day after day, and that ain’t new. A couple of days have pushed 120. Friends sweltering in “cooler” climes — which in our Brave New World of global warming are unlikely to stay cool much longer — ask how we natives of the Valley of the We-Do-Mean-Sun survive.
Well. Some of us leave town. NG (SDXB’s New Girlfriend) is in Boulder as we scribble. But most of us adapt. I’ve lived in hot climates all my life: grew up in Saudi Arabia, which makes Arizona look like a balmy paradise. I’m still living. Looks like I’ve learned to survive global warming, hm?
Here are a few pointers for how to live in the Hot New World:
Seriously. Think of it as like snowbound. Don’t go outside between about 10 in the morning and 6 in the evening, if you can possibly avoid it. Convince your boss that you love your job so much you can’t bring yourself to leave over the lunch hour. Work at home if you can.
Please do not be stupid about this. STAY OUT OF THE NOONDAY SUN!
Several people have died here this summer. Morons who feel they just must climb Squaw Peak or Camelback Mountain no matter what die. Got that? That’s die, as in dead.
A couple of days ago, a 12-year-old boy died when a grown man, an alleged adult, took him out for a walk in one of the city’s mountain parks on a balmy 112-degree day. They were on the longest trail in the Sonoran Desert Preserve, the one that climbed the highest hill. Yes: they had enough water with them: two litres. But the kid had a heat stroke anyway.
You can suffer heat stroke even if you have plenty of water. Don’t go out in the sun on a day when the heat exceeds 100 degrees, no matter how much of a man (or woman) you think you are.
Don’t assume your cell is going to work.
He had to abandon the boy and run through 112-degree heat to summon help. That didn’t work, either.
Be sure your battery is always charged. Consider carrying a throw-away phone as a backup. Keep that charged, too. And remember: if you’re out in the boondocks, your phone may not get any bars, no matter what your provider claims.
Wear a hat whenever you do go out.
Especially if you’re balding. Hey, dudes: nary a critter on this planet is handsomer than a man in a hat! 😉
But dude or dudette, get yourself a wide-brimmed hat and wear it when you have to go out in the sun. It not only keeps you a little cooler, it shelters your eyes from the glaring sun.
Get yourself a decent pair of shades.
Speaking of glare, shell out for a pair of Polaroid sunglasses. Keep them in your car and wear them. Comfort factor: HUGE.
Park your car in the shade, if you possibly can.
Interestingly, the reduction in scorch factor that you’ll get by parking under a tree’s shade is well worth hiking across an asphalt parking lot.
Keep a white towel in your car.
Drape this over your lap when the sun pours in through the windshield or the driver’s-side window and heats your bluejeans to the broiling level. And drape it over the steering wheel when you have to park in an unshaded space: it will protect you from third-degree burns when you get back to the car.
This means THE BATTERY, stupid. Car batteries die like…uhm…battery-driven robot flies in extreme heat. In Arizona a typical car battery lasts about 18 months. Check the battery regularly, or have your mechanic do so. Be sure your insurance has roadside service; if not, subscribe to one.
Sooner or later, you’ll need it.
Keep your house’s air-conditioning in working order.
In the springtime, have an AC dude come around to clean and service the unit. Yes, this sounds like a waste of money. No, it is not. And even if it is, when you have a “relationship” with an air-conditioning contractor, you’re more likely to be able to get service at short notice.
Sooner or later, you’ll need it.
Set your air-conditioning to cool your house way down at night and let the temp drift up during the day.
The reason you have air-conditioning is so you can sleep at night. With fans (below ↓ ), you can tolerate being warmer than normal during the day. Also, when the ambient temperatures are higher during the day than at night, you save more money with a warmer living space during the day than you do by suffering through hot nights.
Run A LOT of fans in your home and office.
Turn off the feature that makes the thing sweep back and forth. A fan works by blowing on you directly…when it’s swooping around the room, it’s doing nothing for you. Wherever you’re likely to come to light: have a fan pointed at you. Wherever you work — the kitchen, for example — have a fan pointed at you. Maybe more than one fan. Where I’m sitting right now, for example, I have three fans going.
If you work in a cube or a private office, use a squirt bottle to spray yourself in the face. Do the same in the car, when no one’s around to pester you.
If you have a pool: use it.
If you have a shower: use it.
If you have long hair (as I do) let it get wet in the shower and don’t blow-dry it. I dip my hair in the pool at dawn, then braid it or put it up in a bun so it will stay damp for several hours. Et voilà: biological air-conditioning!
Do your physical chores before dawn or after dark.
This includes walking the dog. Do not walk your dog in extreme hot weather. Not unless you enjoy vet bills. Or disposing of doggy corpses.
I do all the gardening, watering, and pool care chores before the sun is very far over the horizon.
Do your health or recreational exercise indoors or at night.
Around here, covered malls open early, long before the shops open. You can go to one of them and walk or jog till you’re blue in the face…without risking death.
Some fundamentalist megachurches have gyms and indoor hiking or running tracks. Get religion: go there to do your daily exercises.
Never push a child to exert him- or herself in the heat.
If the kid complains about being too hot, too uncomfortable, or too tired to charge around, indulge. Better you should spoil the brat than kill the brat.
Dogs commonly die of heat stroke when temps get high. My homicidal (I use the term advisedly) former son-in-
lawsin killed his wife’s beloved dog by forcing him to run with him as he jogged on a hundred-degree day.
While he probably did that on purpose, many naive pet owners lose their dogs because they have no clue that dogs do not tolerate exertion in the heat in the same way humans do.
Horses also can fall victim to heat stroke, especially if the air is dry or breezy, allowing sweat to evaporate too quickly.
If you must leave your animals outside (you should be arrested for doing so), provide plenty of shade and water.
Never leave a child or pet in a vehicle. Not even for a few minutes.
A car can reach homicidal temperatures within minutes, even when outside temperatures are only in the 80s. Summertime temps commonly reach 160 degrees and higher here. It is a felony to leave a child or an animal in a car here — as well it should be.
Eat smaller, lighter meals more often.
You’ll be a lot more comfortable if you don’t stuff yourself. Heavy meals make your body work harder, causing your metabolism to heat up. This is nice on a snowy day, but not so great when it’s 115 in the shade.
Find daytime hangouts that are air-conditioned.
Which lunch shops are coolest? Can you spend Sat’day afternoon in a movie house?
Cook meals outside on a grill or use a slow cooker in the garage.
Never (for godsake!) turn on the oven. Try at all costs not to heat up the kitchen.
If you can, sleep through the hottest hours of the day.
That’s the theory behind siesta. Do what you need to get done in the morning, sleep through the mid-afternoon, then work into the evening.