I love working in the garden during the summer, but often find the heat to be difficult to deal with at times. Fortunately, there are many ways to stay cool when working outside in hot and muggy weather. Besides a number of nifty inventions people have come up with you can also use items around the house to help lower your temperature and prevent heat stroke. (My favorite of these nifty conventions? Beat the Heat With Homemade Ice Cream.) Watch out for symptoms of a possible heat stroke, such as flushed skin, a lack of sweating, high body temperature, confusion, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, headache, muscle cramps, an overall weakness, or even unconsciousness.
I love those giant umbrellas used for outdoor tables. They actually make an excellent sun barrier if you are working in a small area in the yard. However, they can be cumbersome, so a nice hat might be a better idea for working around the garden and such. Sun hats can provide a small amount of shade that moves along with you and protect you from quite a bit of sun that would otherwise beat down on the top of your head. Straw hats are perfect for not only shielding your crown from direct sunlight, but also allows air to circulate through. Allowing a bit of air to move through any sun hat you wear will keep your head from getting so sweaty. If you only have a cotton hat on hand, try soaking it in some cool water now and then to help cool you off even more.
Fans and Misters
There are these cute little inventions where a small, batter-operated fan is attached to the top of a spray bottle. This enables you to squirt water into the moving fan and lightly mist yourself. These are excellent in environments with low humidity. It can be a difficult item to use if you are trying to pull weeds in the garden though, unless you only use it during a mini-break. I don’t know about you, but I tend to need two hands when it comes to combating weeds in the garden!
I used to raise rabbits that required fans to be placed near their pens to help circulate the air during extremely hot weather. I decided to run an extension cord out to the garden from the workshop and plug my husband’s large shop fan into it. I aimed it in the direction of where I was working and it helped immensely. The intense humidity where I live will soak your clothes in a matter of minutes, but adding a fan to the mix actually aids in cooling. Water in addition to wind will remove up to 25% more heat from the body than wind on its own.
Fancy neck coolers can be purchased at a number of garden centers and even some hardware stores I’ve been to. Many of these claim to be the best, but it’s hard to say which ones actually work better than others without buying them all. My grandmother has always used a hand towel doused in cold water to keep her cool when working outside. I remember growing up thinking this was such an amazing idea! As I got older, I learned how to sew and was introduced to water-absorbing crystals. These little granules are fantastic! I began sewing neck coolers for family and friends.
Making your own Neck Cooler
Grab a piece of material that is at least 4 inches wide and long enough to drape around your neck. I tend to use at least a yard of material or piece together enough small bits to make it a yard in length. Fold the fabric in half, length wise, and sew along the long edge. This will give you a tube of fabric 2 inches wide and a yard long. Sew one end of the tube closed and turn it right side out.
Measure up about 5 inches from the end of the closed tube and sew a line across it to seal it off from the rest of the tube. Take ¼ tsp of water-absorbing granules and drop them down into the tube. Shake them down to the portion you’ve already sewn shut, measure up 3 or 4 inches and sew a line across the tube again. You now have granules trapped in a small section of the tube. Continue adding granules and sewing sections shut until you come close to the end of the tube. I try to leave about 5 or 6 inches of granule-free tube at the end to give me something to tie together when I have the neck cooler draped around my neck. Once this little baby has soaked in cool water long enough to allow the granules to swell, it will keep you cool for a very long time. I generally store mine in a large container of water in the fridge so it’s always cold and ready to go when I’m heading outside.
Additional Homesteader Tips for Beating the Heat
- Best Two Ways to Conserve Garden Water – Untrained Housewife
- Dealing with our Tomatoes in the Heat – Five Little Homesteaders
- HEAT WAVE: Keeping the Livestock Cool – Timber Creek Farm
- Hot Summer Days: How to Stay Cool Without Breaking The Bank – MomPrepares
How do you keep cool while working outside?