If you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta on a vacation, you likely have a wonderfully air-conditioned hotel room and can easily slip into the pool with an icy beverage. For those of us who live and work here full time, it can be difficult to manage the simplest day-to-day tasks in this summer heat. Either way, it is important to keep cool and stay well-hydrated, (and no margaritas don’t count.) The following steps can help you keep cool even if you have an air-conditioned space.
Use box fans and ceiling fans to promote air circulation throughout your home. Opening doors in the house and using box fans to push hot air outdoors can function as an “exhaust” system and draw cooler evening air into the house. In the cooler evenings, open all windows and promote as much air circulation as possible. When the sun rises, close all doors and windows, making sure to close curtains and blinds as well, to keep the indoors cool for as long as possible. When the outside air cools to a lower temperature than inside (usually in the evenings or at night), open up the windows and turn on the fans again.
Take advantage of the cooling power of water. Fill buckets or basins and soak your feet. Wet towels and bandannas can have a cooling effect when worn on the shoulders or head. Take cool showers and use a spray bottle filled with cold water for refreshing spritzes throughout the day.
Head downstairs. Since hot air rises, the upper stories of a home will be warmer than the ground floor. A basement can be a cool refuge from the midday heat.
Eliminate extra sources of heat. Incandescent light bulbs can generate unnecessary heat, as can computers or appliances left running. Eat fresh foods that do not require you to use the oven or stove to prepare.
Remember to maintain an adequate level of hydration, which means you’ll need to consume more water than you usually do when it’s hot. If you’re sweating profusely, you will also need to replace electrolytes by eating a small amount of food with your water or by drinking specially-formulated electrolyte replacement drinks. Check in the cooler at your local Oxxo for an array of electrolyte drinks. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration; you should drink sufficient amounts of fluids before you feel thirsty in order to prevent dehydration.
Avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine (I know!), as both of these substances can act as diuretics and promote dehydration.
For a homemade “air conditioning” system, sit in the path of a box fan that is aimed at an open cooler, or pan filled with ice.
Try to visit public buildings with air conditioning during the hottest hours of the day if the heat becomes unbearable. The Galerias mall, and the VIP Cinemex movie theatre are good places to cool down.
Don’t eat large, protein-rich meals that can increase metabolic heat and warm the body.
Be able to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and true heat emergencies. Call emergency services (911) in the event of a heat emergency or visit any of the local ER’s.
Finally, remember that pets also suffer when the temperature rises. Cooling animals (dogs, rabbits, cats) by giving them a “cool” bath or shower will help keep their body temperature down. A cool towel on a tile floor to lay on, a cool towel or washcloth laying over the skin next to a fan will also help cool the animal. Make sure they have plenty of cool water to drink as well. Signs of a heat stroke in a pet are:
- rapid panting,
- wide eyes,
- lots of drooling,
- hot skin,
- twitching muscles,
- vomiting and
- a dazed look.
Call your vet if you think your pet has a heat stroke