If you can't stand the heat, you'll either have to get out of the city or follow these tips
In Texas, of course, we are used to heat — or at least we learn how to live with it. We don't let it stop all activity. For our Heat Week, in which we're examining how summer temperatures in Central Texas have influenced what's baked into our culture, we're sharing strategies from staff members for navigating the season.
Ice pops and parking lots
When the hottest weeks of the year finally roll in, I'm ready. My freezer is stocked with frozen ice pops, and my bathing suit and towel are in a bag that stays in my car.
We don't survive on salads, but I also don't roast or grill much of anything. I'll still bake a loaf of no-knead bread early in the morning and then use that bread to make grilled cheese sandwiches or homemade croutons for a Caesar salad.
My kids used to love running through the sprinkler or hosting ice cube races on a slanted board in the driveway, but now that they are a little older, we're more likely to eat an early dinner and then head to the neighborhood pool, which doesn't close until 8 p.m. A vanilla cone from Dairy Queen cools everyone down in a hurry.
I have become strategic about grocery shopping, avoiding the store when the sun is beating down on the parking lot. If I do have a bunch of errands to run, I always go to the grocery store at the end because cold groceries don't do well in a hot car for more than about 30 minutes.
I keep sunscreen in my purse and in the car, but I don't rely on it for my primary source of sun protection. I store hats for me and my kids in the trunk, and I always bring long sleeves to cover my arms. Toward the end of the summer, I will even start to wear those sleeves and hat when I walk through a large parking lot. It's the only way to make it through August, if you ask me.
That light sweat on my brow when I'm driving through Austin traffic sucks the water out of my body fast. A swim at Barton Springs Pool will cool me off for at least a day, but even that doesn't work if I haven't had enough water to drink. I try to drink water as soon as I wake up and right before I go to bed, with lots of hydration in between.
There's always at least one moment during the dog days of summer when I just don't think I can take another day of 105-degree heat. Then I think about shoveling a driveway full of snow to get out of the house. Or having to wear six layers of clothes to walk the dog. My grass might be dead, but at least my car isn't covered in ice. I can handle that.
– Addie Broyles, food writer
» MORE HEAT WEEK:10 tips for keeping your car cool during summer in Texas
Oven on wheels
Be careful what you leave in your car. When the mercury rises above 90 degrees, the furnace formerly known as your trusty vehicle has the potential to liquefy your belongings. A few things I've melted in my car: lip balm, crayons, gummy bears, deodorant (the hippie gel kind that didn't do much anyway) and a fancy solid lotion bar from Lush (that actually did work quite well). A few other things I'm careful not to leave in my car: vinyl records, my yoga mat, my makeup bag, anything even vaguely meltable.
– Deborah Sengupta Stith, music writer
Fleet heat feet
For those of us with early work schedules or who simply cannot bear to set an alarm clock before 6 a.m., there's no way around exercising in the full, triple-digit heat of a Texas summer. As an endorphin-addicted, non-morning person distance runner, here are a few tips I live by:
Throw the watch out the window and slow down. I try not to worry about pace on regular maintenance runs, save for one workout day a week when I go by effort and feel instead of time.
Stop at every single water fountain on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail (for extra relief, plan loops around the fountain by Vic Mathias Shores; it's the coldest on the trail).
Plan your run around Barton Springs Pool or another body of water and jump in right after your run.
Run as early as possible or later in the evening after sunset for slightly cooler temperatures. Perhaps the worst time to hit the trail: 5 p.m., when temperatures have reached their highest and the dirt has been baking in the sun all day.
Stock the freezer with freeze pops and other icy treats as a cool reward for getting some miles in. If all else fails, opt for a treadmill jog and hit the weight room for an indoor circuit workout at your local gym. Literally no one is judging you.
– Johanna Gretschel, online content producer
Don't skip this trip step
If you want to experience the great outdoors this summer, you should know that in Central Texas, the early bird most definitely gets the worm. Whether you're day-tripping somewhere like Enchanted Rock State Natural Area — which frequently closes early due to a high volume of visitors — or simply taking a kayak out on Lady Bird Lake, you'll beat the rush, and the heat, if you go early in the morning. Some popular attractions, including Hamilton Pool and Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberley, combat crowds by requiring reservations, and Enchanted Rock recently announced Save the Day passes that you can purchase up to 30 days before your visit. No matter where you're going, be sure to bring cash, sunscreen and insect repellent.
– Kristin Finan, travel editor
» MORE TIPS:How to keep your dogs safe in summer heat
Sweat with purpose
If you're going to exercise in the heat, prepare long before. Drink a lot of water before bed the night before, and keep drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated. I'm not talking about one or two bottles. Like, six to 10, if you're in for a big workout. Drinking water only during exercise won't do much more than wetting your throat. Also, carry water to drink and pour on your body if necessary.
Find shady routes, breezy trails or trails close to water. Don't do things that are isolated and exposed to the sun.
If you are going to hike or bike, let someone know where you are going and when you should be done.
If you are taking pets outside, especially on hikes or runs, keep an eye on their paws, which can burn. Never walk or run animals on asphalt in hot temperatures; a good rule of thumb is to put the back of your hand on the ground. If it's too hot for that, it's too hot for your pup. Keep them close to water and well hydrated, and carry an actual dog bowl so they can get good drinks without having to struggle.
Sunscreen. Lots of it. High SPF.
Plan for a nice cool-down. End a workout or hike at a pool or swimming hole, or with an ice-cold beer or frosty margs.
It is a good idea to limit activity to sunrise or sunset. That way you get some nice views and less punishing temps. You can run or hike up to overlooks for some active, outdoorsy romance.
– Mark Wilson, public safety reporter
» MORE HEAT WEEK:No need to reapply when the sun protection’s part of your clothing
Spice up your life
I drink homemade iced tea — works even when there's no air conditioning. My grandmother and her sister, though, have a crazy solution to hot weather: They munch on raw hot peppers, usually jalapeños they've grown in their own garden.
I was dumbstruck when I drove to Longview for a visit one summer and they were in my grandmother's sunroom, sitting at a cafe table with a mound of raw green jalapeños in front of them, crunching away, wincing with every bite.
Me: "What are y'all doing?"
Grandmother Irene: "Eatin' peppers, baby."
Me (sneezing): "Yeah, but why?"
Aunt Glady (grimacing): "Makes you sweat."
It seemed to be working, as both of them were damp about the brow and the upper lip. Aunt Glady held out a pepper toward me, but I shook my head and backed away slowly. "No, ma'am," I said. "I'll go pour me a glass of iced tea. ..."
– Andy Alford, managing editor
If you're running during the summer, replenish with an electrolyte sports drink. I like Nuun tablets, which are low in sugar and dissolve in water. You can also take salt tabs, like those available at REI, during a long run.
– Gabrielle Munoz, digital news editor
Ice, ice baby
I have several ice packs in my freezer, and when I'm feeling overheated I put them on my wrists for a few minutes, sit down and just breathe. Someone told me years ago that cooling off your wrists will help cool your blood and your body. If out and about and overheated, I try to find a bathroom or sink where I can run cold water over my wrists for a few minutes. I'm not a doctor, but I don't care whether my ice packs are just placebos. I always feel better afterward.
– Sharon Chapman, executive features editor
Steps: 1) Make sure your car AC is working, 2) take Congress Avenue to Cesar Chavez Street to Interstate 35, 3) keep going, 4) arrive in Duluth.
– Elizabeth Findell, City Hall reporter