The summer heat can seem unbearable for even a few minutes, even if you have an air conditioned home to retreat to. What happens if the air conditioning goes out? Is your family fated to staying with relatives until it’s fixed or suffering from a heat related illness?
People survived the heat long before air conditioning, and many survive without it even today. I’ve raised a child with a particular sensitivity to heat, along with the rest of our family, in a home without AC for the last 5 years. We don’t see it as a burden, but a challenge, and we love coming up with innovative and creative ways to deal with the heat. Even if you have access to AC this summer, you might want to try a few of these ideas and cut you electric bill down.
There are many things you can do to Keep the House Cool, Keep the Kids Fed, Keep the Kids Cool, and Keep the Pets Cool.
Keeping the House Cool
Get the Cold In
Take advantage of the evening lows. When it’s finally cooler outside than it is inside, open the windows. Open ALL the windows.
Put window fans in some of them and drag that nice cool air in by it’s heels!
Leave everything open all night and by morning it may be downright chili in the house. What a nice change!
Keep the Cold In
Somewhere between 8 and 10 in the morning, it will start to heat up outside. When you notice this happening, close everything up. Shut all the windows and draw the curtains.
If you time it right, it shouldn’t really start getting hot in the house until the early evening. By then, it’s starting to cool down and you’ll want to open it all up again.
Keep the Heat Out
During the day, there are a few things you can do to keep the house cooler. First off, the windows should only be open if it’s cooler outside than in the house.
Keep those curtains shut tight. Windows don’t just let the hot sun in. They amplify it!
Turn the lights off. That’s right. Not only do the bulbs emit a bit of heat themselves, they effect your perception of the temperature. When it’s nice and shady in the house it will feel a cooler than when it’s brightly lit.
Turn on your indoor fans. The air flowing past will pull some of the heat off your body and cool you down.
Keeping the Kids Fed
Loss of appetite is common in the heat. No one wants to eat a hot meal, but often even a sandwich is unappealing. Try these cool ideas to keep the kids nourished when it’s too hot to eat.
Eat Your Food Cold
Avoid hot meals in general. They raise your body temperature and can bring on digestive discomforts. If you want to make something cooked, do it the night before and serve it cold.
Meat and dairy tend to cause upset tummies even when served cold. If anyone develops an upset stomach, you may want to cut down on their dairy and meat intake in hot weather.
Popsicles for Breakfast
If everyone is tired of cereal, try something new. The night before, make a batch of oatmeal. It should have a fairly watery (or milky of you use milk) consistency.
You can add all your favorite toppings. Butter, honey, cinnamon, raisins, jam, sugar, etc.
Then, pour it into popsicle makers and leave it in the freezer overnight. These healthy breakfast treats are always big hits.
Kids love frozen treats. Anything you can freeze becomes a treat. They will happily sit and munch on frozen fruits and vegetables.
For more active snacks, pull out the popsicle maker again. Canned fruits and vegetables make excellent popsicles. They are nice and mushy so they fall apart easily when the kids take bites out of the popsicles.
Just fill a popsicle maker with your filling of choice.
It won’t be compact and will fall apart when removed frozen like this. So, fill pour water into the popsicle maker to fill all the open spaces.
Then, place it in the freezer until it’s frozen! That usually takes about 2 hours.
We all know how important water is. Nutritionists recommend adults drink 1 oz of water for every degree outside. That’s a lot of water! Kids don’t need quite as much, but it can still be hard keeping them fully hydrated.
Offer them water regularly. If they’re not great about drinking water, remind them to have some every hour.
Keep it cool. Put their water in the fridge when they’re not drinking it.
Make it fun. Hit the dollar store and buy each child their own water bottle or specialty cup.
Make it interesting. Fill an ice tray with kool-aid or juice instead of water. Put one or two cubes in your child’s water. It will cool the water down and make it fun to drink. It also gives the child a little flavor and the “better than water” appeal most kids attribute to flavored drinks, but they will still be drinking a glass of water.
Keeping the Kids Cool
If you have a pool, more power to you. If you don’t, you can still pick up some fun water toys or just set the sprinkler up for the kids.
When it’s too hot to be in the sun or you don’t have a yard, you still have a bath tub. Siblings will have a great time and play for hours in their swimsuits in the bath tub. Let them take their goggles and swim toys and soak down the bathroom.
Let them clean. Once the bathroom is soaked, give them a bunch of huge sponges and let them scrub it down. Most kids will have a blast cleaning the kitchen or laundry room for you too, if they’re given the freedom to get soaked in the process.
A wet washrag on the back of the neck, forehead, or up the underside of a forearm can do wonders, too.
Pack Them in Ice
You can pick up ice packs incredibly cheap at a dollar store or grocery store. The kind made for lunch boxes are usually the least expensive. Keep a bunch in the freezer so there is always one available.
Adults and older children can carry an ice pack with them and use it as they see fit, but for small children and babies you should wrap it in a washrag or cloth diaper.
You can place the wrapped pack right on or next to the baby. The child will fuss if it is too cold or uncomfortable. So long as you listen to your child’s cues there is no danger of injury.
Mom might not want to leave the house this way, but an icepack in the front or back of the bra will cool you down quickly and leave your hands free for other things.
Ice Pack T-Shirt
If you have a talent in sewing, you might want to make an icepack undershirt for each member of the family. Take a regular t-shirt of sturdy cloth. Fold a washcloth in half and sew up the two short sides, making a pocket. Now, sew the washcloth into the inside of the shirt. Make sure the opening is facing up, and make sure you don’t sew the opening closed! For younger children, you might want it in the back so they can’t mess with it. For older children, you might want it in the front so they can change out their ice packs themselves. Once you’ve finished the shirt, slip it on as an undershirt and put an icepack in the pocket.
Keeping the Pets Cool
Point a fan at a downward angle so the animals can lay down in front of it.
People aren’t the only ones that like a cold drink. Most animals appreciate some ice in their water dish in the heat of the day. In fact, larger animals will often pull the ice out and eat it whole.
Pack Them in Ice
When your pet is laying around looking miserable, pull an ice pack out of the freezer and lay it on their side.
Some animals prefer if you use the ice pack to pet them, instead of keeping it in one place.
Others will rub up against it themselves or knock it out of your hand and flop down on top of it.
Follow their lead, and let them cool down however is comfortable.