It’s Getting HOT Out There! Stay Cool With AT…

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By Rachel Anderson, Ability Tools

bassett hound in front of a fan with its ears flapping in the windWith temperatures still skyrocketing in California, we thought it would be a good time to talk about some AT, including DIY AT, for dealing with this heat.  Our definition of assistive technology, or AT, is very broad, and to us means  any object, device or tool used to make life easier.  Well, for all of us, life can be difficult when you or your AT is overheated!  Here are some great tips and some technology for dealing with the heat.

1. Most everyone wants central air to make their living environment the exact temperature they are comfortable with, but not all of us are fortunate enough to be able to have that.  So, in addition to fans and air conditioners, here are some options for DIY air conditioners.

2. Another option is to go to where the air is at – public spaces like malls, coffee shops, movies, etc.  Look for places that don’t mind you are hanging out for a couple of hours; these don’t have to cost a lot of money for you to get out of the midday heat, as many places are free or charge very little.

3. Stay away from concrete and asphalt and seek out trees, green spaces, and natural shade!  Shade from leafy trees is often cooler than shade cast from concrete buildings, because trees can actually cool themselves and the air around them.  During the day, leaves essentially sweat – water moves through a tree by evaporating into the atmosphere through the leaves. It helps to cool the tree down, among other things, and keeps the surrounding air slightly cooler. Concrete and asphalt are constantly absorbing  the sun’s energy, hence they become warmer and warmer. Ever feel (and see) the heat radiating?  It is much hotter than green spaces.

4. Create a “swamp cooler” effect by opening windows at the top AND at the bottom,  creating a chimney effect — cool air being sucked in and hot air leaving through the top part. You simply dampen a sheet with cold water and then hang it over an open window. Hot air passing through the sheet creates a cooling airstream. If you live in a multistory dwelling, you can take your swamp-cooler to the next level by strategically selecting the best windows to keep open. Open windows on the top floor that have the most sun exposure, and open bottom story windows with the least exposure, then place the sheet over the coolest window.

5. Cooling down your body using ice sounds like a no-brainer, but the key to getting the most out of a bag of cubes is location. One of the ways our bodies reduces internal temperatures is to send blood to the skin. It’s why we become flushed when exercising. The head, neck and wrists — all parts of the body with lots of blood vessels close to the skin’s surface — are particularly good places for the blood to let off steam.

6. Also, instead of ice, which can be too cold and/or melt away too quickly, is a fill a clean sock or pillowcase with plain, dry  rice. Throw it in the freezer for a few hours and it’s an ice pack on a budget, and you don’t have to worry about melting and leaks.

7. Finally, check out these higher-tech versions of some less known AT to see the possible future of “cooling off”:

Do you have any additional tips for staying cool?  Write us in the comment section below!

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