How to Stay Cool on a Hot Sunny Day (Beat the Heat of Summer)

Updated on June 28, 2018
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Summer is great for outdoor activities, but I tend to seek out the shade as I get sunburn very easily.

Australian Para-cyclist Peter Homann cools down with damp towels during the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games.
Australian Para-cyclist Peter Homann cools down with damp towels during the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games. | Source

6 Tips to Keep Cool in the Summer Heat

Hot weather can be uncomfortable, but for vulnerable people like the very young and the very old, high temperatures can be lethal. Here are six things you can do to reduce your chance of sunstroke.

  1. Fill a hot water bottle with cold water and put in in the freezer for an hour. Use this cold water bottle as a cold compress to cool your pulse points (ankles, wrists and behind ears.)
  2. Wear loose cotton clothing to help your body's sweat evaporate easily.
  3. Walk on the shady side of the street.
  4. Drink a glass of water before you go to sleep. It helps you sweat and maintain a cooler body temperature overnight.
  5. Give in to the urge to nap after lunch. It is common to have a midday siesta in hot climates, so no need to feel guilty.
  6. Hang a wet towel in front of an open window. The water evaporating will help cool the air inside your room.

Consult Your Doctor

This article is for general information only. For health advice you should consult a medical doctor or nurse practitioner.

Cool down by plunging bare feet into running water.
Cool down by plunging bare feet into running water. | Source

1. Cool Your Pulse Points

Your pulse points are where the arteries come closest to the surface of your body. At these sites, the arteries lie just beneath the skin and you can feel your heartbeat pulsing through them. You may be familiar with some of them as they are the places where you traditionally would dab perfume or eau-de-cologne. For example, wrists, the base of the ears or the forehead.

Blood warmed inside your body is brought to the surface to lose heat to the outside air before being recirculated. It’s nature’s way of maintaining a healthy body temperature. By cooling these pulse points, you are taking additional heat from the circulating blood and thereby reduce your overall body temperature.

A quick and easy remedy is to wrap a wet towel around your face and neck. I recommend you take a NKTM Cooling Towel with you on hot days or to use after a gym workout. It is a small lightweight towel that acts as a chilly pad when wet. The cooling affect lasts for several hours before you need to rehydrate it.

As well as cooling your face and wrists, other areas to concentrate on are your feet, the groin area, behind the knees and inside your elbows. A cold shower or plunge in the sea is a good way to cool off quickly. As the water evaporates, heat is drawn from your body. Taking a shower fully clothed and then letting the fabric dry off naturally also gives you a nice "chill".

To keep cool while out and about, take a water spray with you. You can either buy a commercially produced one make your own by filling an empty spray bottle (after washing it thoroughly first).

2. Wear Loose Clothing

Have you ever wondered why loose shapeless clothing is so popular in dessert climates? It’s because it helps wearer stay cool and comfortable. Loose clothing allow air to circulate. This prevents sweat from being trapped next to the skin and aids evaporation. Perspiring by humans is natural in hot weather. Our body’s temperature regulation system cools through heat being removed by evaporation. Tight clothing inhibits this natural process and sweat stays on the skin becoming smelly as bacterial growth starts.

Stay cool in the sun by using wet towels, umbrellas and sitting in shaded areas. A brimmed hat reduces eye strain from bright sunlight.
Stay cool in the sun by using wet towels, umbrellas and sitting in shaded areas. A brimmed hat reduces eye strain from bright sunlight. | Source

3. Stay in the Shade

The temperature in the shade may only be 5 to 10 degrees less, but it feels much cooler and this helps your overall psychological well-being. Being out of direct sunlight reduces glare and also reduces UV exposure.

In the video below meteorologist Kyle Roberts explains the difference between temperatures and heat index values in the sun versus the shade.

Meteorologist Explains Temperatures in Sun Versus Shade

4. Drink Lots of Water

Did you know that being hydrated or not affects your mood? Even in normal weather conditions, health experts recommend you drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. This can be in the form of soft drinks, tea or coffee as well as plain water. When you’re slightly dehydrated you may suffer from tiredness, headaches, and become short tempered. Signs that you are seriously dehydrated include dizziness or light-headedness, confusion, a dry mouth, low blood pressure, and a rapid heartbeat.

When the weather is hot and humid, it’s essential for health that you remain hydrated. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, have a glass of water regularly. This means drinking water steadily throughout the day so that it totals around 2 liters (10 to 12 glasses) for the average person. This requirement can rise to up to 10 liters per day if you’re doing vigorous activity in a hot climate. You also need to maintain your intake of salt as when you sweat or urinate you lose mineral salts along with the water.

A siesta (short sleep) in the shade helps you stay comfortable on a hot day.
A siesta (short sleep) in the shade helps you stay comfortable on a hot day. | Source

5. Take a Midday Siesta and Avoid Direct Sun

As Noel Coward sang only “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”. The hottest part of the day is usually between 12:00 and 14:00 when the sun is directly overhead. Going outside at this time means you’re more likely to suffer from the effects of heat exhaustion and sunburn. In hot climates, most people take a siesta around midday. Stores close and business stops. Heat can make you feel sleepy, so why not give in to the feeling and copy the locals by having a snooze? You’ll awake refreshed and the worst of the summer heat will have gone without affecting you.

If you have to go out into the hot sun, wear a hat with a brim. A cowboy-type brimmed hat has the equivalent effect as UPF (Ultra Violet Protection Factor) 50+. The brim will also protect your eyes as you won’t need to screw them up against the sun’s glare.

Ways to Wear Hats With Wide Brims

6. Use a Fan and Cool Your Home

Here are some ways to keep your home cool.

1. Keep the curtains drawn.

2. Open windows on the shady side of the house

3. Place bowls of water near open windows.

If you can afford the electricity, you can enhance your cooling efforts by using an electric fan. Remember that hot air rises, so air inlets should always be a lower level than air exits.

1. Place the fan near an open window at low level so that it draws cooler air into the house. Make sure the vents in the eaves of your roof are clear so that the hotter air can exit.

2. If the outside temperature is extremely hot, place a bowl of ice cubes in front of the fan so that the air being circulated by the fan is cooled.

3. Last but not least, you could install an air-conditioning system in your home. However, it can be expensive to run and is of no use if the power supply fails.

A ceiling fan keeps air moving and makes the room feel cooler.
A ceiling fan keeps air moving and makes the room feel cooler. | Source

Who is most at risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

• older people, especially those over 75

• babies and young children

• people with a serious chronic condition, especially heart or breathing problems

• people with mobility problems – for example, people with Parkinson's disease or who have had a stroke.

Don't forget about your pets in hot weather. They need to stay cool too.
Don't forget about your pets in hot weather. They need to stay cool too. | Source

Further Information on How to Stay Cool in a Heatwave

The following websites provide information and advice on protecting yourself from the sun.


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