AT for Managing the Heat


By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staffcartoon sun with sunglasses dripping in sweat with a fan sitting in a cloud pointed at the sun

This summer’s heat and humidity have blown me away. I don’t like weather this hot on regular occasions, but in addition to my general distaste for heat, this summer I’m pregnant. The heat and humidity have resulted in fatigue, swelling, and discomfort. How are you taking care of yourself and staying cool?

I’ve found some things that work for me but am anxious to hear how others are coping, especially if your disability(ies) are impacted by heat.

What helps?

  1. Air conditioning and fans—these are pretty well known by everyone but I feel the need to mention them. I did read that if possible, two fans work better than one—one to point out
    I swear this English Bulldog looks nothing like my grandma, but he has the right idea plopped down in a puddle of ice cubes.

    I swear this English Bulldog looks nothing like my grandma, but he has the right idea plopped down in a puddle of ice cubes.

    of a room creating a draft, and then if you have a second fan, one pointed on you. I am very grateful for our air conditioning this summer but realize not everyone has that privilege. My grandma used to set a tub of ice in-front of a fan and then have it blow over the ice onto her. This seems like an idea worth trying if you don’t have air conditioning. If you are on Medicaid and have a health condition that requires air conditioning, some counties’ Department of Health and Human Services have emergency funds they can dip into to purchase an air conditioner for you. Also, you can look at our Funding Strategy for other ideas on funding for an air conditioner if a need for cooling is related to your disability.

  2. Stay hydrated. I keep water with me at all times and drink throughout the day. I also have to watch my salt intake and get good protein to prevent swelling. Possibly TMI, but I pay attention to my urine and if it gets dark like apple juice, I know I have to up my water intake. Soda and sugary drinks are not as good at keeping you hydrated so try to stick to water. I’ve learned that I drink more from water bottles with larger openings so I steer clear of bottles with straws (and I have less indigestion without straws) but I have friends who feel the opposite, so do what’s right for you. For many people, straws are an important AT device.
  3. Wear hats and sunscreen and stay out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. if possible. Also, my neighbor who grew up on a farm taught me this trick—close your windows in the heat of the day. When its hotter outside than in, close the windows. Open them at night and in the morning and evening. Draw the shades to keep from extra heating from the sun.
  4. Use a spray bottle—cheap AT here! Fill a clean spray bottle with water and mist yourself with it during the day or night. The evaporation of the spray will cool your skin.
  5. Choose clothes that keep you cool—lighter colors and cotton. Right now, synthetics make me feel like I’m in a sweaty tent. Cotton, especially loose fitting, light-colored cotton, wicks and cools.
  6. Find local places you can get to that are air conditioned. The local library is a great place to spend the day relaxing and reading in the air conditioning—and hopefully they also have accessible restrooms and drinking fountains. My cousins take very extended lunches at the mall, restaurants, and fast food chains with air conditioning, or head to the cheap matinee movies.
  7. Fill your hot water bottles with ice water—chill yourself down with them. You can also wet and chill towels and sheets. To cool down faster apply ice packs or cold compresses to your pulse points first. You may also want to take a cool shower or bath.
  8. Consider a buckwheat or rice pillow—they don’t hold heat like polyester or foam. Fill your pillow case with one of these grains (and even chill it) before going to bed.

Do you have any tips to share to beat the heat? The summer isn’t over yet.


What do you think? Let us know!