Five Tips to Help You Survive the Rest of the Summer

How do we most effectively navigate what remains of these final few weeks of sunshine? Well, I’ve already encountered these five seasonal speed bumps and have information on how to avoid them. You can thank me later.

Every Friday, I’m compiling a list of five things that meet one criterion. “What is that criterion,” you ask? Well, it’s going to change every week and you’re just going to have to try and keep up.

This week…

Five Tips to Help You Survive the Rest of the Summer

Though we are now being inundated with commercials boasting “end of summer” & “back to school” sales and football season seems like it’s two minutes away, summer is still very much here (I mean, have you noticed that it’s still unbearably hot and kids are still on vacation?).

So, how do we most effectively navigate what remains of these final few weeks of sunshine? Well, I’ve already encountered these seasonal speed bumps and have information on how to avoid them. You can thank me later.

5. Refill, don’t exchange

This one is more cautionary advice rather than a real tip. Regardless, when you’re on the hunt for some more propane for your gas grill, don’t immediately assume those exchange programs are as wonderful and convenient as they seem. Well, I mean, they are convenient but they are not always 100% wonderful.

While the product is perfectly fine in terms of the gas itself, there are many stories out there about companies like Blue Rhino purposefully under-filling the tanks they swap out at places like Wal-Mart or Harris Teeter (15 lbs. in a 20 lb. tank, for example). See, the way these exchange programs work is that you drop off an empty tank, pay a flat fee (normally around $20) and then get a pre-filled tank. But if that tank was under-filled, you’re not getting a discount and thus, you’re not getting your money’s worth. PLUS, you can never be too sure of the structural integrity of the tanks offered in exchange programs – you don’t want to get one that some jerk dropped on the concrete and subsequently incinerate your entire house when the barbecue starts. Stick with your own hardware and grill in peace.

[I know: getting a tank refilled at a hardware store or at a place like UHaul may take a little more time (it always seems to take ten minutes longer than it should) but you are absolutely going to get your money’s worth and probably not-die and really, that’s what’s most important, here.]

4. Salt isn’t just for margaritas

You know how sometimes things pile up (no judgment here; I understand that laying on the beach is important) and you suddenly find yourself unprepared for a big party? You got ice. You got drinks. But guests will arrive in 10 minutes and you forgot to force them all into a cooler or bucket together. What happens now? Even in an ocean of ice, those beverages are not going to be cold by the time everyone shows up. OR WILL THEY.

(Well actually no; using only ice in a cooler will not chill drinks quickly. But there is another way.)

Putting those cans and bottles on ice and then adding cold water and some salt will chill the drinks to optimal temperature in under 10 minutes. And if you are without excess salt, just use ice water – either method will work its magic far faster than ice alone. Science: improving your pool party one molecule at a time.

3. Your biggest fans

Though not everyone has central air or window air-conditioning units operating at maximum capacity, most people do have fans of some kind (either on the ceiling or on a table). Unfortunately, when it comes to keeping a room cool, most people are not aware of the best way to put these fans to work. A few ideas:

If you have ceiling fans in adjacent rooms and the room in which you’re sitting is a little too warm, you should turn on the fans in both rooms. However, in the empty room (the one that you’re not sitting in), make sure the fan is spinning in the direction that will blow air DOWN FROM the ceiling. In the room that you’re currently occupying, make sure the fan is spinning in the direction that will pull air UP TO the ceiling. This way, the coolest air from the other rooms will be blown into your room while all the warmest air in your room will be constantly pulled up towards the ceiling. It may not turn 85-degree air into 65-degree air but it will ensure that you are as cool as possible and the air keeps moving all over.

If you only have a desk fan or two, and need to clear all the warm, stagnant air out of a smaller, enclosed space (like an attic, garage, or studio apartment), don’t think you’re limited to just those four walls and ceiling. Open a window or door and place one fan at that opening, pointing outwards. Then, position any additional fan on the opposite side of the room, also facing that door/window. With this method, the fans will quickly and effectively blow all the heat out into the world (let them deal with it). After everything’s cleared out, do whatever you want with those fans. Be safe.

2. Protect your thighs

Warm weather naturally means more walking and outdoor activities. For many, this means your thighs will be in contact with each other more than usual. Naturally, all this exertion means more perspiration. Combine all those ingredients and you’ve got the perfect recipe for some serious chafing. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about the fact that you sweat when you’re warm or that your legs may touch while in motion but there is a way to eliminate the possibility of this awful byproduct of being active during the sunnier days of the year.

First, get some boxer briefs. Even if you prefer another variety of underthing, it’s a good idea to keep some boxer briefs around for when you play sports or plan on doing a lot of walking (bike/compression shorts over top of briefs will also work but will obviously just add another layer to your hot day). The design of form-fitting boxers wraps your upper thighs in a shield of fabric, preventing skin from coming into contact with other skin (which is a really good thing for guys during the summer). This tactic alone can prevent horrible irritation but I would also recommend throwing some body powder like Gold Bond down there, in order to eliminate as much moisture as possible (even if you don’t chafe, being dry beneath the equator is a wonderful feeling on those triple-digit days).

1. Combat mosquito bites with tape

If you live anywhere near the South, you are going to be bitten by a great many mosquitoes before they are all wiped out by that first glorious cold autumn morning. What to do? Well, there are a plethora of commercial remedies that provide varying relief but mostly, the easiest (and seemingly most effective) response to the incredible itchiness is to just scratch with or without human fingers.

However, you probably have an abundance of an incredibly effective itchiness cure lying around your house right now. Tape! I prefer the Scotch variety (you can hardly notice it) but truthfully, any adhesive material will do. I’ve used the sticky part of Band Aids, labels, stickers – whatever was handy. Placing a sticky seal on the irritating little skin bump will keep out oxygen and thus, eliminate what makes the bites so itchy. You can also dab a little alcohol or ammonia on the bite before applying the tape to really expedite the process.

Justin Brown is a writer and artist living in Virginia. He channels most of his mind's molten river of creativity into his blog Esteban Was Eaten!. For even more information about him, check out his website.