Why eating spicy food helps you stay cool and 10 other ways to beat the heat.
Summer is officially here, and one thing's for certain:
And while summer and warm weather typically go hand in metaphorical hand, this heat is unprecedented.
For days, the southwest U.S. has seen record-setting temperatures with highs reminiscent of a pre-heating oven.
Tucson, Arizona, hit 115 degrees on June 19, 2016, breaking a more than 20-year-old heat record. And Southern California is facing wildfires, too, as rising temperatures fan the flames.
Heatwaves are more than a sweaty struggle, though — they can be really dangerous.
When it comes to extreme temperatures, it can be difficult to know how our bodies will react, and situations can go from "just fine" to "catastrophic" in a matter of minutes. In mid-June, intense temperatures claimed the lives of hikers on four different trails in Arizona.
"It really shows how critical this heat can be and how it can really sneak up on you," Capt. Larry Subervi, a spokesman for the Phoenix Fire Department told The Arizona Republic.
Whether you're in the Southwest or waging your own battle with the sun, here are 11 easy (and affordable) ways to beat the heat and stay safe.
1. Ice cream. The answer is always ice cream.
This may seem like a pretty vanilla solution, but when it comes to the rocky roads of summer heat, don't drive yourself bananas. Just dish up some ice cream (or sorbet or ice pops) and wait this whole thing out.
2. Dress for sun success — sun-cess, if you will.
As the temperature rises, think light: Swap heavy, dark colored clothes for lighter alternatives like linen, jute, or even cotton. Thinner, lighter fabrics will keep you cool and absorb less heat. And don't forget your hat!
3. Visit a community cooling station.
In periods of blistering heat, local communities, churches, and nonprofit organizations will often organize temporary cooling and hydration stations. These shelters offer bottled water and a safe place to cool off. Some even provide sunscreen, hats, and bandannas, anything to protect people from the heat.
4. Eat something spicy.
This may sound silly, but eating spicy food can actually keep you cool. It's a peculiar phenomenon called gustatory sweating. The condensed version: You eat spicy foods, your start to sweat, and as that sweat evaporates, you cool off. One the one hand, it can be time consuming, but on the other hand, tacos.
5. Or drink something mild.
The menthol found in mint can trick our brains into thinking we're cold, so a cup of iced peppermint tea can be the perfect refreshment on a hot day. And drinking plenty of water is absolutely vital. Staying hydrated is key to preventing heat illnesses.
6. Go ahead, take a day off ... from strenuous exercise that is.
Are you one of those people who runs everyday or is just a mess without your daily bicycle commute? Physical fitness is great, but when heat strikes, exercising outside can be dangerous. Skip the outdoor workout, or if you can, move it to the gym. If you simply have to get outdoors, go before sunrise or at dusk.
7. Be a fan's biggest fan.
Fans are an affordable, mobile, way to deliver cool air just where you want it, which is often more cost-effective than cooling down your entire home.
8. Freeze your way to a good night's sleep.
Fold your pillowcase and slip it into a plastic bag. Place it in the freezer, and put it back on your pillow just before bed. The cooling sensation won't last all night, but the burst of cold may be just enough to help you get some rest.
9. Go ahead and be shady.
Keep your home cool by drawing blinds and shades when the sun is out. When you're ready for new ones, pick lights colors that reflect heat.
10. Get your fill of free AC and entertainment at the movies.
OK, so you have to pay to get in, but once you do, you've got hours of uninterrupted, conditioned air in a big, dark room watching (hopefully) an entertaining, (or at the very least) loud story. Trying to save some dough? See a matinee, and check your local theater for weekday specials.
11. When all else fails, get more ice cream.
It's hot out there, and you've earned it.
However you cool off this summer, stay safe, look out for your friends and neighbors, and have fun.
Because all the sweating aside, that's what this season is all about.