High temperatures can be very hard on nature and people. Many organisms suffer when things get hot, as the temperature has this week and will increasingly as the climate warms. Adapting to changes, like increased number of days with high heat, will be key for people and nature. We thought it might be helpful to ask our staff and board to share some of their ideas for how to stay cool and cope, and we had some great responses. Following is a selection:
For being outside: My #1 heat buster is to wet my clothing and hat. Periodically drenching or dampening a shirt will keep core temperature in a safe zone.
During nighttime cool down of buildings, open closets and cupboards to get a deeper cooling. Run a fan near doors and windows to drive air out, or pull it in.
If you are fortunate to have it, use air-conditioning during the day to cool down to perhaps 72 and then at about 4 PM, when the electric independent system operator loads are greatest, reset the AC to about 78 or so.
We don’t have air-conditioning and rely on one ceiling fan, but we are lucky and have a lot of shade. In addition to the usual tips (we live in one room, open windows at night only, pull shades in the late afternoon, etc), we give our dog a cool shower and then let her air dry (don’t worry, we only use a little bit of water!)
Chickens can succumb to heat during high temperature spikes. Besides providing water and shade, it is helpful to moisten a portion of their yard with a hose or sprinkler (while using precious water judiciously) to lower temperatures via evaporative cooling. If chickens are enclosed within a coop, hanging burlap bags on the sides and hosing them with water will be helpful.
I like to think of strategies for staying cool in terms of wildlife that use them:
Deer hide in the shade and only come out when it cools off. Quails wet their skin and feathers. Morning-glories close their flowers as soon as it gets hot. Bees fan their wings to blow hot air out of their hives. Gophers move further underground to cool off in the deep places. Turtles soak in the ponds with only their noses out in the hot air.
I love this cooling breath practice (pranayama)
Use a window fan right when the heat breaks to suck in the cool California evening air. It’s the gift of our climate and so much cheaper than an AC.
I’m sure people know to keep water out for critters, and birdbaths filled. I’ve been noticing different behaviors among the birds, so I was watching them closely during this heat. They’re panting, and gathering around the water I have out – more so than usual. I found some good info on How Birds Handle Hot Weather. Here are a couple pics (that illustrate these concepts).