June 15, 2023 By CDHD Five accessible ways to stay cool this summer Longer days and warmer temperatures are a sure sign that summer is here! The new season brings the promise of outdoor fun, but it’s important to know how much is too much when it comes to spending time in the sun. Everyone should practice sun safety and staying cool, but it’s especially important for some people with disabilities. Warmer temperatures can cause extreme discomfort or amplify certain conditions. To help everyone beat the heat – including people with disabilities – here are a few accessible ways to stay cool this summer. Wearable cooling devices There are a number of personal cooling devices or clothing you can use to keep cool. This includes: neckerchiefs, vests, hats cloths or blankets gel or ice packs handheld fans and misters personal air conditioner devices Wearable items such as neckerchiefs (scarves) and blankets can be put in water. The gel inside them holds the moisture to keep cool for long periods of time. Items such as vests have purpose-built pockets for ice packs. Keep the packs in the freezer until they’re ready to use. Other cooling options include handheld fans or misters. They even make personal air conditioning devices that can be worn around your neck. These items are all portable and often run on battery power. Rechargeable options are also available. Seek shelter If you’re particularly sensitive to the heat, there’s no better cooling strategy than seeking shelter. This is especially true during the hottest times of the day. Try to stay inside (in a cool room) between 11am and 3pm. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, there are a few quick steps you can take to lower the temperature inside your house: Close and cover any windows facing the sun during the daytime. Open them at night to let cooler temperatures in. Get an electric fan or two. Place bowls of ice water around your home – especially in front of fans. Evaporation can help lower the temperature while the fan circulates cooler air. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment, and avoid using your oven. For those invested in long term cooling solutions, you can: Plant trees to provide shade around windows and doors. Repaint your home in lighter, reflective colors. Install external shading options such as outdoor shade cloths, awnings or umbrellas. If you’d rather seek shelter away from home, try going to the movies. Theaters are notorious for their excellent air conditioning. Malls, stores, museums and public libraries are also great options. Find (or create) shade From BBQs to camping, outdoor activities are quintessential summertime fun. If you’re going to be outside for long periods of time, stay cool by seeking shade. Plan your activities in places with tall trees or covered spaces that provide shade. Not only does this offer some cooling relief on a hot day, but it also reduces your exposure to harmful UV rays. If there’s no shade in sight, not to worry! There are ways you can create your own: Wear a hat with a wide brim to keep the sun off your face. Bring an umbrella on your outdoor excursion. Options are available that can hook directly to wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Set up a portable sun shade, canopy or sun shelter to help block out the sun. Cooler clothes When the weather starts to heat up, it’s time to break out the summer wardrobe. This means shorts, sandals and tank tops. When it comes to picking the right outfit, these tips will help keep you cool: Loose fitting clothing allows cooling airflow. Stick to natural materials like cotton and linen that are lightweight and breathable. Choose light colors that reflect the sun rather than absorb it. Don’t forget the accessories – hats and sunglasses are a summer must-have. Snacks and drinks When the temperatures start to rise, it’s important to keep your energy up and your body well hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This is especially true if it’s extra warm outside. It doesn’t take long to become dehydrated in the summer sun. A great tip is to freeze your water bottle the night before. Not only will this help keep your water cooler for longer, but you can also use it to cool your body temperature. Just press it against neck or wrists. It’s also a great idea to stock up on healthy treats. These options taste great and offer a little cooling relief: frozen fruit such as grapes or bananas popsicles or icy pops frozen yoghurt pops watermelon.