By August 7, 2012 Read More →

How to Handle the Heat if the Electricity Fails

This was our theme for discussions at the Central Florida Preppers meeting in July.  The information seems timely and valuable considering the grid failure in India and some of the US in the middle of hurricane season.  I hope there are some ideas that you can glean, if this emergency situation comes up.

When we lived in Texas in the summer without electricity, I figured out some tricks to keep us safe and cool.  The physical work went on in the morning and pre-dusk times, during the cool of the day.  Yes, even back then, in the early ’80’s,  I had the self-sustaining mentality and kept chickens, goats, rabbits and vegetable gardens.  All those chores were attended to at day break.   At noon we used the Mexican routine of siesta, resting with books in the heat of the day.  In the afternoon, I would put the cool damp clothes on the line as the children played in the shade and jumped in and out of the kiddie pool.  The breezes cooled us as it dried the clothes.  We all wore straw hats in the summer because we could drench those with water and keep us cool for many hours, besides giving us protection from the sun.

If it were a hot evening, as most were, we would catch the breezes on the front porch while waiting for the house to cool off.  More than once we sat on the hood of the cool car to watch shooting stars.  Other times, we laid a blanket out in the yard to enjoy that free entertainment.  At bedtime, we would dampen our top sheets to wrap the coolness around us. Hubby and I had a waterbed without the heater turned on and it was a wonder in keeping us cool at night.

A lot of those ideas do not work in Florida because it is so damp here.  But still good to keep in mind for a short-term emergency.  Consider a way to create an outdoor bedroom to help beat the heat, especially in an emergency power outage situation.  It seems that most things can be endured if you get a good nights sleep.

Cool Scarves

When I was president of the ladies axillary for Sons of the American Revolution, we made and sent many of these to the troops overseas.

The exterior of cool scarves are 100% cotton, but the magic is in the special “cooling crystals.”  These scarves lower body temperature by cooling the neck – they feel like a cool, damp cloth that lasts for days.  Through evaporation, they protect the wearer from the effects of extreme heat found in the deserts of the Middle East.

  • Filled with non-toxic synthetic crystals, which transform into a soft cooling gel when wet
  • Stays cool 2-3 days, without refrigeration (must be adjusted periodically to maximize cooling effect)
  • Reduces risk of heat stroke
  • Reusable

They also make cool vests and hats for those with Multiple Sclerosis.  The symptoms get worse in the heat and these items make summer less difficult for them.  Some outdoor workers have found these vests to be a life-saver when working in the heat.  If you live in an area of extreme heat, it might be a good thing to consider for your prepper inventory.


1. Drink water!  Keeping hydrated will make you feel more comfortable.  Drink 8 oz of water every hour if possible.

2. Keep the back of your neck cool.  This part of the body seems to regulate body heat.  Use hats that shade this area, pull up collars  and use wet cloths or cool scarves for this.

3.  Wet your hair/head.  If that is not possible use water to wet the hairline. Use a bandana or terry cloth head band.

4.  Try using a portable battery operated misting fan.  You can also buy misting lines to use on a patio or lenai.  If you have running water, these are wonderful.

5. Soak a t-shirt or other cotton type material and put that on.  If you sit in a chair that breathes, that lets the breeze through, you will feel immediate relief.

6. If you don’t feel comfortable doing these things, just add some water to a mister and hit the ends of short sleeves and the ends of a skirt.  Many times I have gone to the pasture in the morning in a long cotton skirt and remained cool from the dew all morning.

7. The Victorian idea of using rose water at the wrists is deserving of a comeback.  It can reduce your temperature for an hour or so.  You can also just run cool water over your wrists.

8. Soak your feet in cool water.  Or if you have children, a kiddie pool works.

9.  Eat cool things like fruit and salads.  Mint seems to make one feel cooler so add some to ice tea.  Try eating spicy food.  It is no coincidence that people in Arid countries like their food piquante. It makes one perspire which cools the body and can add an endorphin rush.  An old remedy that some say works and some say doesn’t is to drink a hot beverage like those from India do in the summer. It is supposed to reset your internal thermostat.

10. Use the mind to trick the body by reading about or by watching snowy environments.

11. Use baby powder. Baby powder or cornstarch sprinkled on the sheets may not really make things cooler, but sticky and humid evenings feel less uncomfortable.


Wear nothing if you can get away with it, next to nothing if you can’t.  A swimsuit comes to mind.  If you need to be properly dressed, choose loose weave natural fabric, like cotton, linen or silk.  Lighter colors reflect heat and darker ones absorb it.  Choose lighter colors.  Sometimes it is appropriate to cover up.  In arid countries, this is done to keep the sun off the skin.  I will most often wear a long sleeve blouse if I am working outside, and feel coolest this way.  It can protect from too much sun exposure.

(See accompanying article on HOW TO GET AWAY WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING)

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