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24 February, 2009

How To-123: "How to Cool Yourself Without Air Conditioning"

How to Cool Yourself Without Air Conditioning

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Are you stuck on a sweltering summer day without air conditioning? Here's how to cool yourself down before the heat overwhelms your body.


  1. Just add water! The relief is almost immediate, and will last for up to one hour!
    • Ball up and soak a t-shirt in the sink, wring it out, put it on and sit in a lawn chair (or other chair that lets air through to you) in front of a fan. Re-wet as it dries. Make sure not to soak it with cold water. It can be colder than you think. Instead use lukewarm water so you get cool without freezing. Using a synthetic shirt will ensure no "wet T-shirt" look.
    • Wet your wrists and other pulse points with cold water. Use a piece of ice wrapped in a face cloth to continue after the coolness wears off. Constantly cooling off the wrists will also cool off the body. Never use just ice; make sure it is wrapped in a towel or something similar.
    • Wear a short sleeved shirt and put water on the sleeves. If there is a breeze or fan blowing on you, you can actually get cold. Use a squirt bottle, the sink or hose if outside to keep your sleeves wet. If you are outside and wearing long pants and you put water on your legs, the water will cool your legs.
    • Hold a cold beverage on your neck to cool yourself. A cold object, such as a soda can, held against the neck cools the blood to the brain very quickly.
    • A bandana, soaked in water and tied about the neck cools quickly and protects against sunburn.
    • Fill your bathtub with cool water and get in. Once you are used to the temperature, let some water out and refill with cold water. Keep doing this until you are sufficiently cold. Your body will stay cool for a long time after you get out.
  2. Sweat it out! Water vapor produced by sweating actually takes heat away from your body if it is exposed to air and allowed to evaporate. The best thing to do is to put your sweaty self in the path of a cool breeze or fan.
  3. Drink water, even if you are not thirsty! You must replace fluids lost in perspiration to prevent dehydration. Oral re-hydration may be accomplished by drinking an electrolyte-balanced beverage. The electrolytes help to make sure you don't lose vital minerals through sweating. Adding ice will also help cool you off. Avoid lemonade, iced tea, and other sugary drinks (see the Tips below).
  4. Dress (or undress) for the heat. There are several strategies to dress, depending on your situation:
    • Nothing: If you're in a situation where you can go without clothes, this can be the most comfortable, natural way to stay cool.
    • Next-to-Nothing: Put on a swimsuit, or wear your underwear at home.
    • Summer Clothing: Wear natural fabrics (cotton, silk, linen) rather than polyester, rayon, or other artificial fibers (with the possible exception of performance fabrics).
    • Take off your hat, stay a while. Take off your shoes or hat while indoors! Much of the body's heat is released through the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, and the scalp. Keeping these areas cool makes a surprising difference.
    • Wear Light Colors: Darker colors will absorb the sun's rays and be warmer.
    • Cover Up: Covering up may actually keep your cooler, especially if the heat is low in humidity. In the scorching temperatures of the Middle Eastern deserts, traditional cultures wear clothing covering from head to toe. By protecting your skin from the sun beating down, you'll also shade your skin. Be sure your clothing is natural fabrics, and loose.
  5. Avoid direct sunlight. Stay in a shaded area if possible. Exposure to direct sunlight increases the heat index, so that your body may experience temperatures even higher than the air temperature! If you must go outdoors, go in the morning or evening. A wide-brimmed hat is good. Light-weight, loose-fitting cotton clothing should be worn.
  6. Go downstairs. Warm air is less dense than cooler air so it ends up layered on top of the downward moving cooler air. If you're in a house, for example, get lower than the roof. Make your way to the basement or lower level. It will be cooler there. Position a fan in an upstairs window to draw off heat collected in upper rooms--set it up so that it sucks air from indoors and pushes it outdoors.
  7. Keep the air flowing. Turn on the ceiling fan or box fan in the room. In the evening, open windows and use fans to create a cross-breeze, circulating cooler evening/night air through the rooms. As soon as the sun hits the building the next morning, close all windows, blinds, and curtains, and keep doors and windows closed throughout the day until it is cooler outside than it is inside. Then you can open everything up again and cool off to be prepared for the next day. Leaving kitchen cabinets open all night helps too; if you leave them closed, they store the heat and your house won't cool off as much.
  8. Turn off electrical heat sources.Turn off the stove or other sources of heat. Don't use the stove or oven to eat--eat out, eat cold food, or use the microwave. Incandescent light bulbs also create heat. Turn off your lamps, as well as your computer when you're not on Wikihow.
  9. Use a hint of mint.Try a few minty or menthol products to cool your skin: slather on lotion with peppermint (avoid your face and eyes), shower with peppermint soap, use a minty foot soak, and powders with mint. Mint refreshes the skin and leaves a nice cooling sensation.
  10. Try a heat snorkeling system. Take a glass and fill it almost to the brim with ice cubes. Then hold it up to your mouth and blow gently into the cup. The ice causes the air you are blowing into the cup to cool down drastically, and since the air only has one way out of the cup (the hole which should now be aiming right at your face) the cold air is forced out over your skin. This is a great alternative to air conditioning and is very simple.
  11. Breathe like a yogi. Try the yoga practice of shitali pranayama. Sit down cross legged and take a few deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Roll your tongue into a tube with the tip outside the mouth. Continuing slow deep breath, breath in through the tube and then move your chin to your chest as you breath out through your nose. Do that 5-10 times and you should start to feel cooler. Dogs often use their tongues to cool themselves; perhaps this yoga practice comes from noticing that.
  12. Eat spicy food. It's not a coincidence that many people in hotter regions of the world eat spicy food. Spicy (hot to the taste) food increases perspiration which cools the body as it evaporates. It also can cause an endorphin rush that is quite pleasant and might make you forget about the heat.
  13. Use alcohol--rubbing, that is... Take ordinary rubbing alcohol and a wash-cloth and pour some alcohol onto the cloth and rub it onto your face, being careful not to get any in your mouth or eyes, and stand in front of or under moving air and the evaporating alcohol makes it feel around 30 degrees.
  14. Put a freeze on things. Get a 1 or more 3 liter bottles, fill them mostly full of water, freeze them, then place them in a large bowl (to catch dripping water). Position a fan to blow on them. As the ice in the bottles melts, the air cools around them. The fan will blow that air at you. The water in the bottles can be frozen overnight and used again, repeatedly. This will supplement your AC if you have it, and will serve as a ad hoc AC until you can get a decent AC system.
  15. Think cool. Read books about climbing Mount Everest, visiting Norway, or watch "March of the Penguins", "Ice Age", or "The Day After Tomorrow". You might not be physically cooler, but if your mind envisions a cold environment, you might feel a bit cooler.

    Long-Term Solutions
  16. Use light-colored roofing. If you have the choice, choose a lighter roof or roof coating. It will reflect sunlight rather than absorbing it.
  17. Plant Trees. Trees can shade your home or yard and keep things considerably cooler. Deciduous trees, those that lose their leaves in winter, will let sunlight through in winter when it's desired and create shade in summer. Awnings and planning the exposure of windows and doors in a home you are building can also provide shade. The south and west sides of your home will generally be the hottest and most in need of shade.
  18. Send up the cool air. If your home has a basement and central air system, have an HVAC professional add a cold air return in the basement to pull the naturally cool air that falls down and recycle it into the rest of your home by simply setting your furnace to "fan" mode.


  • Don't forget that the human race lived for many, many years without air conditioning. Within the limits of your particular health situation, your body can adapt to the summer increase in temperature. Just become accustomed to the fact that you may have to alter your activities and schedule to 'beat the heat'.
  • Stock your freezer with flavored ice treats. Freeze a bag of chopped fruit such as watermelon, pineapple or grapes. Cooling down can be a tasty experience too!
  • If all else fails, go to the mall, library, church, movie theater or some other air-conditioned public building.
  • You still want to get into the outdoors? Usually the early morning and evening are cooled down enough to enjoy your walk, run, hike, bike, gardening, or yard work.
  • Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which make you urinate more often than usual. This promotes further dehydration through water loss.
  • If your garage is under living areas of your home, leave your hot car outside to cool off before putting it in the garage.
  • Don't put rocks, concrete, or brick patios right against the house where they will reflect heat onto walls or windows, especially on the south or west sides. If you already have such a feature in your landscape, plant a tree so that it and that side of the building will be shaded, especially during the hot parts of the day. Rocks, concrete, and the like also retain heat longer than planted areas after the sun goes down.


  • While it is rarely a problem for individuals with good health, over-hydration is a possibility for individuals with heart, liver, or kidney problems[1]. If you have any serious health problems, be mindful of how much water you drink, as your kidneys may not be able to excrete an excessive amount of water properly.
  • Babies, children, pregnant women, and the elderly are all much more prone to overheating than others. Be sure to keep an eye on members of your family, co-workers, and neighbors.
  • If you experience symptoms of heat stroke or dehydration, call emergency personnel and seek professional assistance.
  • A body temperature above 104 °F (40 °C) is life-threatening and if it reaches 113 °F (45 °C) you are approaching sure death. Don't let your temperature rise anywhere near those temperatures.
  • In many areas, high day temperatures can set off afternoon thunderstorms. Be prepared for such weather situations.
  • Heat is often the uncomfortable companion of drought. If there are water restrictions in your area, make sure you consider them before implementing any of the water-intensive suggestions above. Failure to comply may get you a hefty fine, even jail time.

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