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Health

6 surprising, scientifically-backed ways to cool down quickly during a heat wave

Some of this advice may seem counterintuitive, but it may help you beat the heat.

man sweating and drinking a sports drink

Heat waves are hitting across the globe, and getting worse every year.

Phoenix is known for its scorching hot summers, with temperatures sitting at or above 100 degrees for much of the season. But even those seasoned by the Sonoran sun are struggling with nearly three weeks straight of high temps over 110 degrees, with overnight lows not dipping below 90 degrees for days on end.

(Having lived in the Valley of the Sun myself, I can attest that, yes, there is a significant difference between 100 and 110 degrees. At 100, you can still legitimately pull the "But it's a dry heat!" card. Over 110 is just miserable, not to mention dangerous.)

The Southwest isn't the only place experiencing record heat. The Lower Mississippi Valley and Florida are feeling it, and globally we're seeing parts of Europe and Asia breaking their own heat records as well.

With the globe predictably heating up due to climate change, there doesn't appear to be much end in sight for extra-oppressive heat waves. So aside from taking the necessary steps to curb climate change, we have to focus on how to cool ourselves down. There's a lot of conflicting advice out there, but here are some scientifically-backed ways to cool your body down quickly, especially if you don't have air conditioning or access to a pool or lake or river nearby.


1. Focus on cooling your hands and feet.

Everyone seems to have a different body part to focus on first for the quickest cool-down—your face, your neck, your wrists, etc.—but according to Professor Mike Tipton from the Extreme Environments Laboratory at the University of Portsmouth, the hands are where it's at.

"Your hands have a high surface area to mass area—they have lots of blood flowing in them when you’re hot. If your core temperature is hot, your body will send blood to the extremities in order to lose heat,” Tipton told Science Focus.

“Immersing your hands in cold water won’t feel as nice, but it’ll cool you much faster than even an ice bath! It’s so important to make a distinction between things that make you feel cooler and things that actually make you cooler.”

Cooling your feet works for the same reasons. We have lots of blood flow to our feet, so immersing them in cool water (not ice water, as that causes the blood vessels to constrict and reduce blood flow) can help cool you down quickly.

2. Try drinking hot liquids.

Yes, drinking cold drinks feels amazing when you're hot, but some experts say hot drinks can actually do more to help your body's natural cooling system work more efficiently. Ollie Jay, a researcher at the University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics, explains why.

“What we found is that when you ingest a hot drink, you actually have a disproportionate increase in the amount that you sweat,” Jay told The Smithsonian. “Yes, the hot drink is hotter than your body temperature, so you are adding heat to the body, but the amount that you increase your sweating by—if that can all evaporate—more than compensates for the added heat to the body from the fluid.”

The one caveat is that the increased sweat has to have someplace to evaporate, so take humidity levels into consideration.

“On a very hot and humid day, if you’re wearing a lot of clothing, or if you’re having so much sweat that it starts to drip on the ground and doesn’t evaporate from the skin’s surface, then drinking a hot drink is a bad thing,” Jay added. “The hot drink still does add a little heat to the body, so if the sweat’s not going to assist in evaporation, go for a cold drink.”

3. Try some spicy foods, too.

Have you ever noticed that tropical places often have the spiciest foods? There are several theories for why that is, but one of them may be that spicy foods can actually help you stay cool.

Similarly to drinking hot beverages, eating spicy food makes you sweat, and sweat is the body's main cooling system. (Again, though, the effectiveness of this approach depends on your sweat being able to evaporate, so you may not benefit from your mouth burning if you're in a very hot and humid climate.)

4. Ditch the fan if it's extremely hot AND extremely dry or humid.

Fans can provide a nice breeze to help you cool down, but many public health agencies have recommended against using fans above 95 degrees F (35 degrees C).

However, Ollie Jay and 12 colleagues published a study in 2021 that found humidity levels make a difference in whether fans are actually effective for cooling in extremely high temperatures. Essentially, if temps are extreme and conditions are very dry or very humid, fans can make things worse. But as Science Alert points out, those conditions are not the norm in most places. When humidity is moderate, the temperature at which fans are effective can be higher than 95 degrees.

"[T]here are many locations on Earth where fan use could be safely recommended as an alternative to air conditioning all of the time despite air temperature exceeding the currently recommended threshold of 35 °C," the authors wrote.

(However, it is important to note that fans increase the risk of dehydration, so always make sure you're drinking plenty of fluids. And for older adults, fan use is not as effective as it is for younger people and can actually result in raising their body temperatures. So it's important that elderly folks and their caregivers follow heat guidance specifically for older adults.)

5. Just say no to the cold beer—or any alcoholic or caffeinated beverage

Cracking open a cold one may sound incredibly refreshing when you're sweltering, but alcohol and heat actually make poor bedfellows. That's because alcohol actually dehydrates you. Same goes for caffeine. And the fact that they are liquids is especially deceptive because they give you a false sense of hydration.

“If you’re drinking a lot of beer or alcoholic seltzer, it can feel like you’re taking in a lot of liquid and staying hydrated,” registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, tells the Cleveland Clinic. “But the alcohol offsets that because of the dehydrating factor.”

(If you're interested in the biological reason for alcohol being dehydrating, it reduces the release of vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone (ADH) that works with your kidneys to keep your body fluids balanced. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which means it increases the fluid being pulled out of your body as urine.

Hydration is key to making it through a heat wave, so drink aplenty, but make it water. (And start hydrating early in the day. Keeping water near you at all times and continually drinking throughout the day will go a long way toward preventing heat illness.)

6. Try dabbing on some peppermint oil

I know, I know. Essential oils are quack cures and whatnot. But in this case, even though it doesn't drop your core temperature, there really is a scientific basis for topical peppermint oil making you temporarily feel cooler.

Menthol, the primary ingredient in peppermint oil, has been shown to induce a cooling sensation. If you've ever sucked on a menthol cough drop, you know the feeling. Peppermint oil creates a similar sensation on the skin, which can provide some psychological relief from the heat, even if it's not actually reducing your body temperature.

In one study, a menthol gel was found to have a longer cooling effect than either ice or a placebo gel on healthy males. But anecdotally, a few dabs of peppermint oil on my wrists, neck and inside my elbows provides some instant cooling relief on very hot days. When it's brutally hot outside, any bit of relief helps.

There are plenty more tips for beating the heat, from wearing light-colored clothing to avoiding strenuous activity, but the big takeaway from this list is helping our body's built-in cooling system work as well as it possibly can during extreme heat.

For more information about the dangers of heat waves and how to prevent heat illness, check out the American Red Cross extreme heat safety tips here.

Science

A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.



The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.

16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.

Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"It's a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.

When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."

The site of the orange peel deposit (L) and adjacent pastureland (R).

Photo by Leland Werden.

"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.

The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.

Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.

The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area's turnaround.

The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.

Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.

"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."

Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.

In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.

Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.

In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.

Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.

The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"We don't want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it's scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.

The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.

Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.

Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.

In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper's senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area's transformation became truly clear.

The sign after clearing away the vines.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

"It's a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.

19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.


This article originally appeared on 08.23.17

A Taco Bell drive-thru.

Natasha Long, a mother in Pennsylvania, is calling Taco Bell Manager Becky Arbaugh her “guardian angel” after she saved her 11-month-old son who stopped breathing. Long was out running some errands with her son when she pulled into a Taco Bell drive-thru in Richboro when she realized that something was wrong.

"I ran out of the car and ran around and opened the car door," Long told ABC affiliate WPVI. "I pulled him out and he turned completely blue and was lifeless. At that point, I just completely blacked out. I didn't know what to do."

Arbaugh, who was busy working the lunch rush, heard Long call out for help. "I heard a scream, and then someone yelled out, 'Call 911, the baby isn’t breathing!'" she told Good Morning America. Arbuagh wasted no time running to Long’s aid while one of her employees dialed 911.

"I threw my headset and ran outside to the baby. The mom was panicked. I told her to give him to me and I performed CPR," Arbaugh recalled. "I was trying to calm her down and comfort her and reassure her that he will be fine."


"The baby finally started to breathe. The ambulance came pretty quickly and then they took over," Arbaugh said. "The EMT said I saved his life."

Pennsylvania Taco Bell manager helps save baby who couldn't breathe

Arbaugh, a mother of 2 boys and 2 girls, was well-versed in how to perform infant CPR and understood the importance of staying calm. "When my kids were little, my daughter had a similar incident, so I knew what she was feeling," she told WPVI. "I knew if I kept her calm and I stayed calm, there was no thought in my mind that the baby wasn't going to breathe again."

Taco Bell’s employees are proud of Arbaugh’s heroic deed. "We are incredibly proud of Becky from the Taco Bell brand’s Richboro, PA, location for her heroic act earlier this week. We are getting in touch to express appreciation for her quick actions and kindness,” the company said in a statement to People.

Since the incident, the women have been in contact with each other and are friends on Facebook. Long has been sharing pictures and videos of her son with Arbaugh to remind her of the precious life she saved. Even though Arbaugh performed the ultimate good deed, saving a baby’s life, she doesn’t consider herself a hero—just another mom looking out for her own.

"I’m just a mom helping a mom. I didn’t do anything different from what anyone else should be doing," Arbaugh told NBC. "I knew how that was, and I heard it, and I felt it instantly and I had to go and help her cause I knew it’s painful. You’re just so helpless as a mom when that happens."

This incredible story out of Pennsylvania is a reminder for every one of the importance of learning CPR. You never know when—just like Arbaugh—you may find yourself in the position to save a life.

To sign up for a class and learn how to perform CPR, visit RedCross.com.




"The baby finally started to breathe. The ambulance came pretty quickly and then they took over," Arbaugh said. "The EMT said I saved his life."

[Video]

Arbaugh, a mother of 2 boys and 2 girls, was well-versed in how to perform infant CPR and understood the importance of staying calm. "When my kids were little, my daughter had a similar incident, so I knew what she was feeling," she told WPVI. "I knew if I kept her calm and I stayed calm, there was no thought in my mind that the baby wasn't going to breathe again."

Taco Bell’s employees are proud of Arbaugh’s heroic deed. "We are incredibly proud of Becky from the Taco Bell brand’s Richboro, PA, location for her heroic act earlier this week. We are getting in touch to express appreciation for her quick actions and kindness,” the company said in a statement to People.

Since the incident, the women have been in contact with each other, becoming friends on Facebook. Long has been sharing pictures and videos of her son with Arbaugh to reminder of the precious life she saved. Even though Arbaugh performed the ultimate good deed, saving a baby’s life, she doesn’t consider herself a hero—just another mom looking out for her own.

"I’m just a mom helping a mom. I didn’t do anything different from what anyone else should be doing," Arbaugh told NBC. "I knew how that was, and I heard it, and I felt it instantly and I had to go and help her cause I knew it’s painful. You’re just so helpless as a mom when that happens."

This incredible story out of Pennsylvania is a reminder for every one of the importance of learning CPR. You never know when—just like Arbaugh—you may find yourself in the position to save a life.

To sign up for a class and learn how to perform CPR, visit RedCross.com.



Michael B. Jordan speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Black Panther", at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

As long as humans have endeavored to do anything great, there have been those who have tried to take them down. These are the opposite of the creators in life: the bullies, haters and naysayers who only want to bring people down to their level.

But when you have a dream and desire, its easy to tune out the voices of negativity. "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better,” Theodore Roosevelt once said. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."

Some folks use the naysayers as fuel to push them to work even harder. Basketball legend Michael Jordan was infamous for letting his thirst for revenge drive him to even greater heights on the court.


Another Michael Jordan, "Black Panther" star, Michael B. Jordan, came face to face with someone who doubted that he could reach his dreams, and he wasn’t shy about letting her know that he remembered. What's Upworthy about the encounter is that he did so with class and confidence.

In 2023, Jordan was on the red carpet for the premiere of "Creed III," a film he starred in and directed. He was interviewed by “The Morning Hustle” radio show host Lore’l, who had recently admitted on the “Undressing Room” podcast that she used to make fun of him in school.

“You know what’s so crazy? I went to school with Michael B. Jordan at a point in life,” Lore’l said. “And to be honest with you, we teased him all the damn time because his name was Michael Jordan. Let’s start there, and he was no Michael Jordan.”

“He also would come to school with a headshot,” she added. “We lived in Newark. That’s the hood. We would make fun of him like, ‘What you gonna do with your stupid headshot?’ And now look at him!”

In addition, her co-host, Eva Marcille, referred to Jordan as “corny.”

Jordan had no problem discussing their past on the red carpet. “We go way back, all the way back to Chad Science [Academy] in Newark,” Lore’l told the actor. Oh yeah, I was the corny kid, right?” Jordan responded with a smirk.

“No, you did not hear me say that! I said we used to make fun of the name,” Lore’l said.

“I heard it,” Jordan said. “I heard it. It’s all good. What’s up?” he responded. “But yeah, [you are] obviously killing things out here…you’re not corny anymore,” Lore’l clarified.

After the exchange went viral, Lore’l admitted that she teased Jordan in school, but they were only classmates for one year.

“So the narrative that I bullied him all throughout high school—this was 7th grade. We were like 12 years old, and everyone made fun of each other,” Lore’l said. “That was school, you know. That was one year. And, again, I’ve never bullied him. That just sounds so outrageous to me.”

Jordan later shared some advice on how to deal with bullies.

"Just stay focused, just stay locked in,” he told a reporter from Complex. “You know, just follow your heart, try to block out the noise and distractions as much as possible and run your race. Don't compare yourself to anybody else. Just keep going."

Pop Culture

Sports? The Royal Family? Joe Rogan? 15 things people can’t believe adults take seriously.

"Sports. I get it. It's entertainment. But calm down. You aren't on the team."

Should adults take sports or Joe Rogan so seriously?

When we take a look at humanity, there are countless things we take seriously, that may not matter in the grand scheme of things. Many of us also have a soft spot for ideas that aren’t exactly scientific.

No one is perfect, and it's okay for us to take pleasure in being invested in some forms of inconsequential entertainment simply because they are fun. The trouble comes when people waste their lives and resources on ridiculous things that do more harm than good.

The key idea is that no one is immune from taking something seriously that others may think is a waste of time. But, to each their own or vive la différence as the French put it.


A Redditor who goes by the username Hogw33d asked the AskReddit forum, “What is something you can't believe real grownup people take seriously?” Many people responded that they don’t understand how some people can invest so much time and energy into things they deem frivolous.

The list was a great way for some to vent but it also provides a solid skeptics guide to some of the pitfalls we may unwillingly fall into in life.

Here are 15 things people “can’t believe” that “real grownup people take seriously.”

​1. Community theater

"This is niche but community theatre. The DRAMA among grown adults is insane, worse than when I was in high school. Like yall, we are singing and dancing and wearing silly costumes. It’s not that serious." — MediocreVideo1893

2. MLMs (multi-level marketing)

"I just don't understand how people keep falling for it. They always think that there's a difference. It's all the same pyramid scheme y'all." — IsItTurkeyNeckorDick

"I think we should take them way more seriously. They can do massive damage to a person's financial and mental health. We need to stop treating them as a cute thing that naive people get sucked into, and ban them for the scam they are." — Hydro123456

3. Flat Earthers

"I think it actually started as a sort of debating society. Just for people to practice and become better at rhetoric. But, they actually convinced some people and now, this is what we have." — Addicus

"There’s one of those apocryphal quotes that goes along the lines of, 'Any group of people that get their laughs pretending to be idiots is bound to be taken over by actual idiots who think they’ve found good company." — RilohKeen

4. Social media outrage

"Social media in general. Too many people believe every clickbait headline or buy into whatever trend is taking over. Feels like people can't self soothe and need the validation or something, it's just weird." — Cynn13

"'Outrage over Z' 'People slam Y' And it's only like a few people on Twitter or Reddit and they present it as some huge backlash or major issue lol." — Sclubadubdub

"The political news channels do almost nothing other than this. They tell viewers the other party is outraged about something that you never find a real person outraged by and create culture wars that no one is actually fighting." — Herbdontana

5. Reality TV

"It's all fake, too. An acquaintance of mine works at a major studio. Those shows are all scripted and fake." — SpaceMoneky3301967

6. Sports fans

"People take being a fan of a sport (or team) way too seriously, imo. I promise you don't need to riot because 'your team' lost." — AdmirableProgress743

"My husband works himself into such a state over something he can't control and is, imo, of absolutely no consequence to his life. He's toned it down because I told him the screaming and cursing terrorize me and our daughter. But he stews and mutters obscenities." — Complex_Yam_5390

7. Scientology

"Might as well just say every religion. They're all coocoo bonkers." — JenniferC1714

8. Gossip

"Gossip in general. I live in a small town and it is maddening how people here are so serious about it. It's not light fun chatting, it's all SCANDAL and we need to take ACTION. I swear a lot of people's problems would be immediately solved if they just stopped giving a sh*t what everyone else does (to an extent)." — Buffalopantry

9. Facebook

"My mom will literally call me up if I didn't like a recent post of hers. There have been a few times where she asked why I didn't like every photo she just posted. It's maddening. I've also had periods of deactivating my fb only for my mom to guilt me into reactivating it." — Zealousideal_Mix6771

10. Billionaire 'geniuses'

"Elon Musk and other billionaire 'geniuses.' People are pretty freaking gullible." — GladysSchwartz23

"Most average people don’t realize that being incredibly smart doesn’t automatically mean you are good at doing things like running a large company. They tend to assume people at the top must be there based on merit. In reality, there are some massively stupid people running huge companies, and there some brilliant people who are shoveling shit for a living." — Captcha_Trampstamp

11. The royal family

"I have a news app on my phone and no matter how much I tweak my interest to avoid any gossip BS I still get "Breaking News! Some insignificant bullshit about the Royals". It's not news, it's not interesting, stop reporting this utter drivel." — Sclubadubdub

12. Religion

“The creator of the universe impregnated a virgin, only to deliberately kill the child 30 years later, to save people from…himself.” — Opteryx5

"I grew up figuring everyone was just roleplaying and was shocked to learn religion is taken seriously by many people. It was a real eye-opener for someone who grew up in a secular environment." — Kilterboard_addict

13. Vaccine skeptics

"I work in medicine and am starting to get really worried about the vaccine skepticism. It used to be a little more rare, so I would counsel, they spout incorrect information, I tell give a little retort/response, and then move on because time is tight. But now it’s happening so often that I’m working way harder to persuade because I feel a strong obligation to fight all the bullshit info that has obviously taken hold." — KellyNJames

14. Loud exhaust systems on cars

"As someone who lives next to traffic lights and can hear all y'all shi**y music and loud exhausts all day... I approve this message." — Rainbow-Singbird

15. Joe Rogan

"The whole 'I’m just an idiot don’t pay any attention to what I say' schtick doesn’t really work anymore." — FoucaultsPrudendum

"It was great when he had a guest that was in academia, like a physicist or something. I would skip over most of the comedy buddy circle jerks he would host. Then when COVID happened I had to stop entirely. He fully went off the deep end then. Still, he introduced me to Dan Carlin's work, for which I am very grateful." — Xczechir

Lost girl mistakes Mariska Hargitay as a real police officer

There's not much scarier for a parent or child than to temporarily lose sight of each other. Kids do all sorts of things that they may find funny that can give their parents a mini panic attack. Nearly every person has taken their turn hiding in a clothes rack at their local department store as a child, momentarily giving your parent a fright.

But sometimes it's not just a quick break in visual contact. Sometimes parent and child find themselves separated for more than a few seconds while in public. That's when panic sets in as both parties frantically search for the other. One mom and daughter found themselves in this very scary situation while at Anne Loftus Playground in New York City while Mariska Hargitay was filming an episode of Law & Order: SVU.

The little girl spotted Hargitay dressed as her character, Olivia Benson and assumed she was an actual police officer due to her badge. Instead of redirecting the little girl to resume filming, the seasoned actor halted production to try to help.


In an interview with People before the premier of the 25th season of the hit procedural series, Hargitay reveals, “We’ve been on a parallel journey,” she said. “There’s a thing: WWOBD, ‘What would Olivia Benson do?’ The fans would always talk about it, and one day it hit me. I also have those moments where I’ve sort of slipped into her. If there’s a crisis, I just take over and lead like that. Being strong and fearless. It’s sort of this perfect feminist story.”

Turns out that method is true. Fans captured the unscripted scene where the pretend detective helped a real missing little girl find her mom. You can watch the entire thing unfold below in still pictures from fans who watched the selfless moment. According to PIX11 News, Hargitay's selfless act halted production for over 20 minutes, but ultimately the girl was reunited with her mom.