Personal cooling methods sought
July 17, 2006 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Creative (non-insane) ways to keep cool in Florida needed

Okay, so my family's going to Florida for a conference in a few days and last year the same location was brutally hot and humid. Probably 95 degrees.

I don't tolerate the heat well at all -- sweat like a hog, and generally feel sapped of all energy and want to escape to AC-land. Always been like this.

But...I'm tired of having to avoid the outdoors on vacation! And, I want to show my 3 yr. old a good time at the beach and not keep her indoors the whole time.

I spent a couple hours poking round the Web for personal AC systems, vests, hats, misters, etc phase shift material, etc. but don't really know what's what -- what might really help and what's just not going to make much of a difference. A bunch of sites sell a scarf-looking thing that you soak in water and evaporation's supposed to cool you a bit. There are a bunch of vests that work this way too, but most of them look bulky and like eyesores. The misters could help, but look like I'll have to constantly refill them and no doubt will be soaking all the time.

I realize this is a tall order, but I was really hoping someone might have some experience with these 'personal cooling' techniques and be able to share their perspective.

I realize dry ice could be dangerous, but seems like harnessed properly, could also yield tremendous cooling potential. Anyone know of a vest or system that can really cool your core w/out weighing a ton or making you stand out like a suicide bomber at a beach party?

Thanks for any suggestions!!!
posted by pallen123 to Technology (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Go with the misters. When it hits 100 here in Oregon (not too often) the missus and I sit in front of a box fan and periodically mist ourselves with dollar store spray bottles. You won't need filling up too much and you will get goosebumps from time to time. Also, cool a damp towel in your freezer and put it on your head. Man, that'll cool you down quick.

Yeah, you'll be a bit damp, but in 95F humid weather, you're doomed to dampness anyway.
posted by codswallop at 7:37 PM on July 17, 2006


Whenever I visit my aunt in Florida I jump in her pool, then get in my car and drive with the windows down. That will cool you off VERY quickly, and it's fun. I've used a really cold wet towel instead, to keep the car from getting soaked.
posted by lain at 7:44 PM on July 17, 2006


It's really a state of mind. Think slowly, don't panic. Walk slower. Become part of the heat. You are the heat.

Oh, and iced coffee.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:56 PM on July 17, 2006


I'm from Florida and-- honestly-- we just don't go outside in the summer. We go from our air conditioned houses to our air conditioned cars to our air conditioned offices. And we laugh at the tourists who are crazy enough to go to the theme parks in the heat. I know that's not a great answer to your question, but in over a decade of living in Florida, I've not found a way to cope with the heat and humidity.

So I say don't bother with the misters and the vests and whatnot. Look for fun indoor activities like museums, aquariums, science centers, etc. Human beings just were not designed to withstand Florida weather.

If you really want to do outdoor activities, try to plan them around water and late in the afternoon, around sunset. I frequently go kayaking, but in the summer I wait until around 7 to do so.
posted by chickletworks at 7:57 PM on July 17, 2006


Those evaporation scarves work well, but not in a humid climate, unless you want to keep one in a freezer.

They're full of DO NOT EAT.
posted by Sallyfur at 8:01 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've lived here for 26 years now, and the last 12 with no air conditioning in my house or (most of the time) car.

Yes.

Really.

Stop laughing.

I have a window intake fan in my bedroom, and on the nights when that isn't good enough, I take a cool shower before bed.

That's almost always enough.

And it's *much* cheaper.

When I mow the lawn, I soak and wring a hand towel, lay it around my neck, and rotate it about every 5 minutes; that wicks off most of the systemic overheat nicely.
posted by baylink at 8:03 PM on July 17, 2006


Blood flow is best accessible in your head, neck, and hands. That's where you want to cool. Chew ice and use cold packs on the back of your neck and wrists.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:03 PM on July 17, 2006


baylink, I'm not laughing--I'm in awe! I used to live in Largo, and unless you're inches from the gulf, I can't imagine how you survive!
posted by kimota at 8:46 PM on July 17, 2006


I'm from Florida and-- honestly-- we just don't go outside in the summer. We go from our air conditioned houses to our air conditioned cars to our air conditioned offices.

Nonsense. I've lived in florida my whole life, and never let the heat stop me from being outside. In fact, other than the elderly, I know very few people who let it keep them inside.

A mister can help. Drinking water helps. Mind over matter helps more than anything. If heat really gets to you, have lunch plans from 12-2. Also, keep moving. Sounds illogical, but standing in heat is much worse than activity. If you're doing something fun, the heat can actually make you feel alive. Sweating is good for you.
posted by justgary at 9:37 PM on July 17, 2006


Wow. I got "Baylink is right" and "I'm in awe".

In the same day.

I must be the schidt.

Thanks. :-)

I lose about 15 or 20 pounds every summer; it's good for me. Just drink lots of water, and yeah, the misters are good too; especially those ones with the built in fan.
posted by baylink at 9:58 PM on July 17, 2006


Somewhat related question: Presuming that there is a time, t, at which it is optimal to close windows in the morning before it gets really hot, when is it? If I do this too early, the heat just incubates. But if I do it too late, the hot air from outside gets inside.

Assume modern insulation and no major sources of heat within the house.


posted by |n$eCur3 at 10:27 PM on July 17, 2006


I am a lifelong resident of DC, which while not being Florida, can probably match it for heat and humidity this time of the year. My suggestion to you would be to do something active, you will sweat, but it wont bug you as much if you are moving around and doing something that is supposed to result in you sweating. Also just keep a lot of water with you and drink it constantly.
posted by BobbyDigital at 7:28 AM on July 18, 2006


I'd stay indoors -- or near water -- as well, but I do have a couple of tips that might be useful.

1) Glass of ice water with straw. Pipette ice water to top of head with straw. Repeat as necessary.

2) Bring a second shirt. When the first one weighs fifteen pounds because of sweat, putting on a fresh one feels amazing. Bring a plastic bag because there's nothing grosser than a shirt with fifteen pounds of sweat.
posted by callmejay at 8:04 AM on July 18, 2006


40% of an adult's heat loss will come from the head. Hats make a big difference in how well this happens in hot weather. Here are some points to consider.
  • Hair can determine what kinds of hats you select, and how well they will work. But hair alone is no substitute for wearing a hat.
  • Hats work to help cool you by several methods. A good hat incorporates several of these.
    • Reflects sun. (Light colors work best)
    • Shades face, neck, and ears.
    • Wicks away sweat, & cools evaporatively.
    • Vents hot air from above head.
  • Classic designs have survived for different reasons, but the wide brimmed Panama hat, is good at most of the above, especially if combined with a kerchief underneath which can be wetted.


posted by paulsc at 8:17 AM on July 18, 2006


Great suggestions. Thank you!

Greatly appreciate links to any specific products users have tried and found helpful/high-quality -- such as neck thingies, caps, misters. I want to buy a few things to bring with me.

Thanks!
posted by pallen123 at 9:00 AM on July 18, 2006


Old film crew trick for keeping cool: (DIY evaporaton scarf)

You'll need a package of Handi Wipes (usually used for cleaning counters), some Sea Breeze antseptic and cold water and ice.

Film Crews do this in a bucket for dozens at a time, but you could do it in a thermos, and take with you...

Make a 1:1:1 mixture of Sea Breeze, Cold Water and ice cubes. Soak the Handi Wipes in the mixture for a few minutes, wring out most but not all of the liquid, and wear that Handi Wipe around the back of your neck.

Re-soak the HandiWipe as necessary.
posted by AuntLisa at 9:25 AM on July 18, 2006


The Sharper Image "Personal Cooling System" actually works pretty well. It's very much like an evaporation scarf, except it has a fan in it to draw air through it. The version 3.0 is only $30, which is cheaper than it used to be. It looks somewhat dorky, but I used one of the earlier models in a hot office for a summer many years ago, and it helped significantly. If you're that hot, dorky is the least of your problems.
posted by Caviar at 9:41 PM on July 18, 2006


Keep bottles of frozen water in your freezer and bring a couple on each trip out of the house, in a roomy bag. You can use the ice to cool down body parts, and you can drink the slowly-thawing water. The ice stays frozen for quite a while, even in the heat; just today we went out into the blazing Manhattan eat at 10:30 in the morning, and at 18:30 there was still a core of ice in the bottle, and the water was still quite cool; and it had been refrigerating the other drinks in the bag.
posted by gentle at 11:06 PM on July 18, 2006


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