How to handle a heat wave in cottage country

woman-in-hot-weather-drinking-water-bottle Photo by FocusStocker/Shutterstock

Sure, cottage country might be the best place to be when a heat wave sets in, but no matter where you are, when you feel as though you’re going to suffocate when you step outside and you’re starting to lose sleep, something’s got to give. If you want to stay comfortable during a heatwave, follow these simple steps. After all, in just a few short months, you’ll be whining about the ice build-up on your windshield and the fact that you can’t step outside without first throwing on a pair of long johns, a second pair of socks, and a clunky pair of boots — so you better make the most of what you’ve got.

Don’t turn on the oven

This is an easy one, but it’s also something people often forget — turning on the oven can heat up the room you’re in, so stick to meals you can barbecue on the deck, or avoid cooking altogether. Those comfort food classics that spend hours cooking in the oven, on the stove, or in the slow cooker are perfect for eight months of the year. Now’s the time to experiment with simple no-cook meals, like the ones on this list, which are full of light, refreshing flavours to keep you cool.

Sleep with cotton sheets

When it’s 30 below zero in the dead of winter, the last thing you want to do is step outside in cotton, which is terrible at holding in heat, when compared to wool or synthetics. So bad, in fact, that many outdoor organizations will go as far as to say that “cotton kills,” when they’re passionately warning about wearing the material while hiking or camping. But because it’s so terrible at trapping heat, the highly breathable fabric is the perfect material to wrap your bed in on a hot summer’s night.

Indulge in a late-night skinny dip

Okay, fine, it doesn’t need to be a skinny dip, but if you’re going for a late-night swim, why would you consider anything else? Sure, a high-quality sheet will give you more chances of sleeping than an old flannel or even polyester, but nothing will cool you down like fully submerging yourself in the lake. It’s a more fun way to reduce your core body temperature than a cold shower, and a few extra strokes will ensure you sleep like a baby.

Know when to keep things closed

When you wake up to a beautiful sunny day, it’s almost instinct to rip apart the curtains and pull open the windows. Of course when it’s hotter outside than in, it’s always better to keep the windows closed. But it’s not always best to close your curtains — while light-coloured curtains can be kept shut to block out the sun, dark curtains and blinds will trap heat and keeping them closed can actually make the rooms hotter.

Know your body’s quick cool-down spots

If you know your pulse points, then you know how to cool your body quickly. In areas where you can find your pulse — your wrists, neck, ankles, groin, temples — your blood vessels tend to be closer to the surface of your skin, making it easier to cool your whole body with something as simple as a cold compress. So while many will put a cool cloth to their forehead when they’re feeling too hot, you’re actually better off to slide it over to your temples.

Give your fans a DIY upgrade

If you’re reading this article, we’re guessing that your cottage isn’t equipped with central air. But if you’re relying solely on fans and it’s too hot to open any windows and doors to create a cross breeze, it won’t do much except push around a bunch of hot air. Instead, grab two pop bottles out of the recycling bin, make a few small modifications by cutting off the bottoms and punching some holes in the bottom half. Then, with the cap screwed on, strap them upside down to the back of the fan with some zip ties, fill the bottles with ice, and voila! You’re blowing cool air. It might not look pretty to set a couple of these around the cottage, but hey, the main objective when you’re there is comfort, isn’t it?

Hydrate

This one seems obvious, but it’s worth paying attention to when you’re at the cottage, where it’s easy to go straight from your morning coffee to afternoon beers. And it’s certainly not news to anyone that alcohol leads to dehydration. It decreases the body’s production of antidiuretic hormone, which is used by the body to reabsorb water, and means you’re going to be significantly more susceptible to the heat if you’re drinking. That’s why we recommend double-fisting — if you have a beer in one hand, you better have a water bottle in the other. But if you have a dry, sticky mouth, start to feel sleepy, thirsty, dizzy, experience any headaches or find yourself heading to the outhouse a little less often, stick to water!

Freeze your hot water bottle – and bring it to bed

Because the cottage can get equally cold in the winter, it’s likely you have a hot water bottle stored somewhere. Dig it out of the closet and throw it in the freezer. When it’s time to turn in — or simply take an afternoon nap — you’ll have a bed-friendly ice pack. Go an extra step by placing the cooling pack at your feet. Like our hands, they tend to cool a lot quicker than other regions of the body, for a variety of reasons, like the fact that they have a large surface area, specialized blood vessels and are at the end of our limbs.