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Contrary to popular belief, Dog Days aren’t named because it’s too hot for your old hound dog to do much more than lie around in the shade. The name comes from The Dog Star – Sirius – which is the brightest star in the night sky. The time this star is first visible above the eastern horizon (called its heliacal rising) usually coincides with when the weather report starts including words like “scorching” and “unbearable.” Hence, the Dog Days of summer.

But it seems like this year even typically temperate places are seeing readings in the triple digits across the country and around the world. As Southerners, we’re pretty used to it, even though we complain about the heat and the harsh humidity like all gitout. And we all have our little Dog Days hacks to stay cool. Maybe it’s time we shared a few with our friends in (usually) low temp places.

Wear cool, lightweight, loose clothing preferably made of cotton or linen.

These fabrics let the heat escape and they “breathe” which means that air and water can easily flow through them.

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Woman presses ice to inside of wrist

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Put an ice pack or even a cool, wet washcloth on your pulse points – your neck, the insides of your wrists and your temples.

And don’t forget the insides of your elbows, the backs of your knees and your ankles. Pro tip: Freeze a wet washcloth in the shape of a U for a DIY cooling towel. You can also fill a 2-liter plastic bottle partway with water, freeze it and sleep with it wrapped in a pillowcase or towel.

Person pushing lawn mower across lush green grass

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Complete outside tasks as early in the day as possible.

Remember, the hottest time of the day isn’t high noon. It’s around 3 in the afternoon.

Since the hottest part of the day is in the middle of the afternoon, that’s a great time to cool off in a matinee movie!

Escape the blinding, relentless sun and enjoy two hours of cool, dark bliss.

If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Or so they say, right? But since we still have to eat even in the summer, just use your pressure cooker or slow cooker to mitigate the heat from stove burners and ovens. Think about grilling out too – anything to keep the appliances off. It’s a great time to explore cold suppers too!

Read more: Southern Instant Pot recipes

Slice on watermelon on plate to the left, bowl of salt on the rightShutterstock

Speaking of eating, this is a great time to stay hydrated by choosing foods with high water content.

Think watermelon, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes and radishes. And for a really cool, summer treat, pop some watermelon that’s been scooped into balls and/or grapes in the freezer for a few hours and enjoy nature’s popsicle!

And contrary to what you might think, eating spicy peppers can keep you from getting too hot under the collar.

When we eat spicy foods, the capsaicin triggers a response that makes our bodies feel warmer which in turn makes us sweat. As the sweat evaporates, we cool back down. But on a super humid day when the sweat has no chance of doing anything but running in rivers down our back, all bets are off.

Baby blue fan in front of blue wall

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Usefans.

Did you know that your ceiling fan should be rotating counterclockwise to keep you cool? That’s the direction that actually pushes air down. And if you’re using window fans, place one fan on the sunny side of the house so that it’s pulling the hot air from the room and place another on the shady side to draw the cool air in. With any luck, you can create a pleasant cross breeze. And to make the air a bit more refreshing, sit a bowl of ice in front of the fan that’s blowing into the room.

Hang wet sheets or towels in front of open windows.

As the breeze blows through and the water evaporates, your house will cool down.

Blinds half open with sun rays filtering in

(Shutterstock)

Close the blinds and curtains to keep the direct sun out.

Aside from keeping things cooler, this easy trick will help you save energy and money by reducing how much your AC has to run. You can use that extra dough to go sit in a cool movie.

Think cool thoughts.

My mama used to say this to me when I was a kid and complained about being hot – think cool thoughts. At the time, I thought it was just her way to stop my whining. But, as we all knew it would, it turns out that Mama was right! Thinking about cold things actually works by distracting you from dwelling on the heat.

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