Where is a good place to sleep on a hot summer night? What do dogs and mattresses have to do with heat? What good is ice if you don’t plan to use it in a drink? Does clothing really matter? Find out on this episode! 

Whether before air conditioning, after the apocalypse or your character is stubborn and doesn’t want one, we will cover five more ways to stay cool. 

11) Don’t Heat The Home

If your characters are trying to stay cool in the heat, they do not want to make the home hotter. A modern example is using a blow dryer. Hair will dry just fine without one, and the character is blowing hot air on themselves in the heat. 

Another one is the dryer. Electric dryers were invented in 1892. That makes driers 131 years old at the time I am recording this! They became commonplace in the home during the 1940s, at least here in America. While experts say, “You should not notice a difference in the room temperature while the dryer is running unless something is wrong,” I wonder if they have ever used a dryer. I have never done laundry at any home, laundry mat, or elsewhere where it didn’t make the room hotter. It is better to dry the clothing on a clothesline or hang it around the home while it is hot. 

Something that will go in history, and straight through the apocalypse, is that cooking will heat the home. Whether it is a stove, oven, fireplace, fire pit, or wood cook stove, it will make the house hotter. Eating cold, shelf-stable, fresh, or canned foods is best. They can cook outside if they need or just want to, assuming the weather will let them. I don’t recommend making a fire outside in tornado weather, but your character can do it. I’ll just be over here thinking they lost their marbles. 

Side note, eating hot foods or drinking hot drinks will heat the core temperature. This is not something your character wants to do on an already hot day. 

12) Ice Fan 

I grew up without air conditioning. When I stayed at my aunt’s home on particularly hot days, we would walk to the connivance store and buy a couple of bags of ice. One was for cooling drinks, and the other was for making what we called a poor man’s air conditioner. 

Basically, this was a bag of ice dumped in a 5-gallon bucket and then water put into it up to the top. It was then placed in front of a fan. Cooling down in front of the ice bucket fan was one of the best things, and we would fight over who got to sit there and for how long. When the adults wised up, they got a fan that rotated so we could all share, not that we wanted to. 

While this doesn’t cool the whole home or even a room, it does make a nice cool breeze. We usually had this sitting somewhere close to the door going outside so we could come in and cool off, then go back out and play. I do not ever remember closing the door while doing this, but I imagine it would have made the room a few degrees cooler, but not too much. 

13) Dress in light, loose clothing 

Your body uses sweat to cool down. Wearing loose clothing allows small amounts of airflow to do this, while heavy-weighted clothing traps the sweat, and it evaporates off the clothing, not the skin. 

Dressing in light-colored clothing also helps. You see, light colors reflect most, but not all, of the wavelengths that can heat the body, while dark colors will absorb the wavelengths and grow hotter far faster. This is why light-colored, lightweight, loose clothing is best in a heat wave. 

14) Don’t do unneeded physical or stressful activities

Working is hard at any time, but when adding extreme temperatures, it can be deadly. Whether your character is farming a field, fishing, working out inside an un-air-conditioned room, or working in a hot steel factory, they are at risk of heat-related illnesses. These include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. These can be both temporarily dangerous and risk long-term affect. Heat stroke can even be fatal. I have a whole episode coming out about this next month, so tune in then if you’d like to learn more. 

Other scenarios could be survival situations. It might make more sense to have your character moving at night in the desert. Most, but not all, deserts are extremely hot during the day and cold at night. If this is the case for your character, it is best to move at night to stave off hypothermia and rest in the day so they do not overheat and risk heat illnesses or cause more sweating that will lead to them being dehydrated faster. 

Granted, moving at night would not be a good idea in places like the jungle or rainforest. The reason is that large predators hunt at night and have many places to hide, plus they can see better in the dark than your character. Well, unless your character is a werecat or has night vision. Ooo! Your character could be the night predator. What? Off-topic? Ok, back to the topic, just ignore me pouting in the corner. 

15) Sleep outside. 

Every generation I know that has lived without air conditioning has, at some point, slept outside in the summer just because it was cooler. You see, the home heats during the day, and it can take a long time for the air inside the house to cool down, while the outside air is already cooler. Almost every summer will come with some unbearably hot nights unless they live further north than I do here in tornado alley! 

My in-law tells a story of being a young girl in the 1930s and her parents taking the mattresses outside during the day to air out, then everyone sleeping on the mattresses outside at night. The parents and all the siblings would watch the stars together until they fell asleep. 

Just remember your character will only do this if the place they are at is reasonably safe. We have wolves, bears, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, and that’s just a few of the predators around here. As long as none have come close in the night recently, I would feel safe sleeping outside. However, if they had been attacking our livestock or I had seen them, I would not want to sleep outside. Either way, I would take some form of self-defense with me. Your characters could always come in contact with two-legged predators too. 

Something to remember is that if your character has a dog, they make a great alarm system. They do not have to be mean or attack to bark and let the character know someone or something is there. However, many dogs would attack in some situations. If you’re writing history or the apocalypse, the dogs are unlikely to be well socialized. They can be very territorial. Also, some types of dogs are natural protectors while some are not, and some dogs break all the typical dog standards of their breed, all things that will factor into your story. 

Interesting Fact: According to the NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), heat fatalities are roughly three times more likely to happen than cold-related fatalities. 

What could possibly go wrong:

Likely to go wrong: Your character tries to cook inside during a heatwave. They could overheat and easily have a heat stroke. 

Likely to go wrong: When a heat wave comes through, your character has never been in one before. They decide to wear a thick dark shirt and do not understand why it is so hard for them to stay cool. 

Possible to go wrong: Your farmer character is working in the fields on his crops. With the sun bearing down, he overheats and has a medical emergency such as a heat stroke. 

Possible to go wrong: While using the bucket of ice water and a fan, your character did not pay enough attention to making sure not to drip water on the floor. If the fan cord comes in contact with the water, someone could be electrocuted. 

Unlikely to go wrong: Your character’s dryer was making the room hotter. When they were reminded to check the vents just to be on the safe side, they unwisely chose not to. This leads to a dryer fire that burns their house down. 

Unlikely to go wrong: While sleeping outside to stay cool, your character is attacked by wild animals or even a bad guy. 

Improbable but technically still in the realm of possibilities: Your character decides to travel at night in the jungle to stay cool, and a jaguar eats them. 

Improbable but technically still in the realm of possibilities: While using a bucket of ice water in front of a fan to cool down, your character leaves the room for a moment. When they return, they find a toddler stuck head-first in the bucket underwater. If your character saves the child, they could be a hero. If not, this could be a tragic backstory. 

Helpful Links to learn more:

Light VS Dark Clothing:


Deserts at night:



Heat VS cold deaths: