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Heat hacks: How to stay cool without air conditioning

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MAP: Where is the closest cooling center?

Are we in October? Yes. 

Are we heading away from the summer? Not really.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department issued an updated list and map of community cooling centers and KPCC has curated some other stay-cool tips for air-conditionally challenged residents across the region. 

Below you'll find practical advice from health officials, local resources from safety professionals and questionable suggestions from formerly hot people. 

Do you have a dependable method for hacking your body temperature? Tell us via Twitter or leave a comment below. 

AND NOW, A WORD ABOUT DRINKING

In the face of tyrannical temperatures, it is essential to stay hydrated. Failing to drink enough water can result in a number of dangerous defeats, including, but not limited to, heat cramps, heat stroke and death

However, not all beverages are on your side. To make sure you're imbibing only allies, follow these basic guidelines:

Tip: Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water or electrolyte-replacements 

Tip: Drink cool water, not extremely cold water (which can cause cramps)

Tip: Avoid sweetened drinks, caffeine, alcohol

The CDC says that in extreme heat you must increase fluid intake regardless of your activity level. Eight to 10 glasses of water per day is advised. If engaging in "heavy exercise in a hot environment," they recommend drinking:

Two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids every hour.

SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Faintness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Increased thirst

MORE SEVERE SIGNS 

  • Diminished judgment
  • Disorientation
  • Pale and clammy skin
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)

HOW TO LOOK COOL

In times of excessive heat, authorities say to dress like you're on vacation. That includes:

  • Hat, preferably with a wide brim
  • Loose-fitting, light-colored, long-sleeve shirts and pants
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

WHERE IS THE CLOSEST COOLING CENTER? 

In L.A. County, call 2-1-1 from any phone for a list of cooling center options, or search the online directory to find the closest location.

Tip: Call the center in advance to make sure seating is available.

Tip: If the center you want is at capacity, or non-operational, head to a local, air conditioned library and cool off with a book about ice fishing in Antarctica.

Below is a map of cooling centers and splash pads/pools provided by L.A. County.

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PROTECT A PET FROM EXCESSIVE HEAT

  • Never leave a pet or animal in a garage
  • Never leave a pet or animal in a vehicle 
  • Never leave a pet or animal in the sun
  • Provide shade 
  • Provide clean drinking water

PROTECT A HUMAN FROM EXCESSIVE HEAT

Check in frequently with family, friends and neighbors. Offer assistance or rides to those who are sick or have limited access to transportation. And give extra attention to people most at risk, including: 

  • Elderly people (65 years and older)
  • Infants
  • Young children
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People with mental illness
  • People taking certain medications (i.e.: "If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot," says the CDC)

OTHER STAY COOL TIPS

  • Kiddie pool
  • Lotions in the fridge
  • Eat spicy foods in the basement (or on the floor) while wearing a damp shirt and listening to the rain setting on your white noise machine
  • Make sure ceiling fans are running counterclockwise
  • Wet paper towels. Fold into ankle and wrist cuffs. Freeze. Wear. Repeat.
  • Build a DIY AC
  • Build a mini cold air fan
  • Build an "evaporative cooler for immediate heat relief"
  • Make a barricade of fans and ice cubes
  • Go to an air-conditioned public place (movie theater, for example)
  • Close all the curtains, preferably the heat absorbing kind
  • Or open all the windows, depending on the breeze situation
  • Cool bath or shower twice a day
  • Wash your sheets before bed but don't dry them — put them on the bed damp (provided you're dealing with a dry heat)
  • Portable A/C unit

This story has been updated.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated what month it is. KPCC regrets the error.

With contributions by Kristen Lepore and Evie Liu

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