Surviving the Dog Days of Summer
When you use the term “the dog days of summer,” you’re actually quoting the classics.
The ancient Greeks and Romans used the term to describe the hottest time of the year, a period in late July close to the day when the star Sirius – AKA the “dog star” – would appear to rise just before the sun.
“If you go back even as far as Homer, The Iliad, it’s referring to Sirius as Orion’s dog rising, and it describes the star as being associated with war and disaster,” author and astronomer Jay B. Holberg told National Geographic last year.
These days, we don’t associate the dog days with catastrophe and destruction, but they’re not exactly everyone’s favorite part of the season, a stretch of hot, long, muggy days. So today we’ll take a look at some ways you can survive the dog days of summer.
1. Cool off at home
While air conditioning can be a blessing in hot weather, there are some old-fashioned, and certainly more eco-friendly ways to cool your home without racking up an exorbitant energy bill. Start by closing your curtains or blinds during before the hottest section of the afternoon. Especially in older homes with thick walls, this helps keep the cool air inside. In the early morning, open your windows to let the cool air in.
If you have a window treatment with a white lining facing the sun, you can reduce a significant amount of heat getting into your home. You can also cool your home by hanging a damp sheet in an open window, provided the air outside is more cool and dry than the air indoors.
2. Stay hydrated
Our body loses fluids more quickly on hot days, putting us at risk – especially as we age – of getting dehydrated. Here are some steps you can take to avoid dehydration:
Keep away from alcohol and caffeine, which only cause you to lose more fluids. If you’re serving drinks but want to skip alcohol, try making a “mock-tail,” such as a non-alcoholic pina colada, daiquiri or bloody mary.
You don’t just have to drink water. Fresh fruits are a delicious source of fluids. You can also add a slice of lemon or lime to a glass of water for extra flavor. Are you growing mint in your garden this year? Try cutting a few sprigs and adding them to your water pitcher. After an hour or two you will get a subtle minty taste to liven up plain old water.
By the same token, you can add water to fruit juices to make them last longer and give you extra fluids and less sugar.
And finally, if you feel thirsty, that means that dehydration is already underway. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink something.
3. Take a dip
If things get too hot at home, go for a swim. Never mind a trip to a waterpark; you can take a dip in your community’s pool, or find a lake at a public park, for a minimal cost. Watch for sunburns. You should wear SPF 45 or higher sunscreen, and reapply it every half hour.
And if you don’t feel like traveling, you could always make your own little watery oasis at home by setting up a kiddie pool in your backyard and turning on the sprinklers.
4. Celebrate the end of summer
You don’t need to wait for Labor Day to have an end-of-summer cookout. When the sun goes down and things cool off, gather your friends and family for a backyard barbecue, or host a game night. Another option: hang a white sheet, fire up a movie projector and turn your yard into a drive-in theater for the night.
We hope these tips offer you some comfort as you make your way through the dog days of summer. And be sure to visit Piper Classics’ summertime selection to find something to help brighten your home this season.