Summer Heat Effects in AZ

cv  ewwdPeople warned me about July and August in Arizona. I was here last August for a week. But nothing prepared me for someone turning the temperature to “grill” and leaving it there.

I read that in the 1850s the military imported camels, but gave up because the mule lobby was too strong. No one knew how to pack an animal that came fully packed with two humps already, so they turned them loose in the desert to die out. The camels loved Arizona, swam the river like spaniels and multiplied. They were finally rounded up and ummm, eaten.

If you’ve never been here in July and August, here are a few hot facts about Arizona:

–You can take a comfortable shower using cold water only. The pipes aren’t buried deep enough to keep the water cool. Tap water comes out around body temperature.

–I toss two icepacks into the bed at night, like I used to toss a hot water bottle in the bed in New England’s January cold. By the time I crawl into bed, I can put one on my forehead and another under the small of my back.

–I keep a bottle of water next to the bed, but I put it in the freezer for an hour before bedtime. Otherwise it’s unpleasantly warm to drink.

–Yes, I have air conditioning. I’m trying to keep the bill for my apartment under $200 a month, so I keep it at 86, which is cool enough most of the time. After all, it’s 20 degrees cooler than outside.

–The door handle is too hot to touch.

–CDs, plastic cups and bottles left in the car will melt if you leave your car in the sun. And pretty much, the only place for your car is the sun.

–This is the only town I know where people will choose a parking lot for shade, not proximity to the mall doors.

–Pool temperatures are frequently above 98. That’s not the hot tub, that’s the pool.

–Mascara melts in the sun. It then runs down your face with your perspiration. Everyone looks like an extra from a KISS concert.

–The temperature at midnight is still 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tomorrow, I’m going to try frying an egg on the sidewalk. No reason it shouldn’t work.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach in Arizona. She believes in September.

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6 thoughts on “Summer Heat Effects in AZ

  1. I was raised in Texas, which doesn’t quite compare, but it gets hot in summer there too. I took summer classes at a local university to get my less desirable requirements out of the way. Had to park my car in the sun. One day I left my sunglasses on the dash and the lenses melted out.

    I learned always to take several towels with me. After classes, go to the parking lot, open all the doors and let out heat that felt like a pizza oven, drape a towel over the seat, which was too hot to sit on, wrap a towel around the steering wheel which was too hot to touch, start the car, go around and roll down all the windows (watch those hot cranks*), close all the doors, and drive off with the towel still wrapped around the steering wheel.

    *Before the days of electric windows.

    Yes, you can adapt to it. When you’re adapted, your skin gets shiny but the sweat no longer pours off you; that’s wasted water that isn’t cooling you. And those Arabs know what they’re doing; there was an article once in Scientific American that analyzed their clothes. Apparently, the loose fit allows air in to blow over your body, evaporate sweat and cool you, while the garments ward off the sun, keeping you in the shade.

    Ever notice tropical hats? Panama hats, sombreros, Australian bush hats, cowboy hats? All with broad brims to provide shade for head, face and shoulders.

    —-> People here block the windshields with folding silver-reflected panels and put towels over the steering wheel. No one here buys cars with leather seats. And my early-morning outfit is a big bush hat, ventilated around the top of the hat, with a brim large enough to shade my chin and nose and neck. When walk away from the sun, I tip it back slightly, to shade the back of my neck. I’m decked out in a man’s big, long-sleeved white cotton shirt for exactly the reason you said–it flops around, creates it’s own breeze, soaks up sweet and cools me off in a weird way. I look like I’ve escaped from the Home and am late for my medication, but that doesn’t bother me too much. -Q

  2. Actually, with time you WILL get acclimated to the heat. Not if you keep the house a/c’d to death; the 86degrees with the outside over 100 is as practical as can be: that’s about as much as full-blown a/c can do at the best of times. Check into a heat pump if you don’t already have one; they are more efficient SEER wise than simple air conditioners and will also heat your home in winter. You’ll turn vampire like most of the rest of the creatures in your climate: early mornings; evenings and mid-day reserved for indoor non-active work. The hat and light clothing will become second nature and you’ll find yourself one of the most hydrated people in the world when you visit anywhere outside your region because of the habits you generate. You might also check into wind power being generated in your area and also geo-thermal energy which can be used for both heat and cooling.

    I do like the idea of a nap in the pool late at night under the stars!

    —-> The new house has a heat pump. I learned to hate them in the DC area, because the winters are too cold to have them effectively heat the house. When it got really cold, and the heat pump came on, it just felt like it was stirring the cold air around. But now, ahhhh, perfect! -Q

  3. My friend who went to school there told me that you actually get used to it. I still don’t believe her. I’ve never gotten used to our two to three weeks of hellish hot.

    I second your friends idea of some solar panels. You might even ask your realtor friend if there’s some program that offers tax rebates or discounts for them. They could pay to have the AC at 80 in the summer and the rest of the year would be gravy..

    Can’t believe I’d not bookmarked this yet…

    –Arizona State is doing some work with very thin panels, almost like duct tape. I’m interested because with the extra, I can heat the pool in the winter and swim all year round. -Q

  4. Hope that your house is well isolated for 400$ per month energy costs is quite high considering that you may have a lot of energy from the sun itself. Do you have solar panels on the roof?
    You can probably cook a whole meal on a good flat stone in that heat. When the surface is smooth you can grill fish and vegetables and fry you eggs (and bacon).

    —> Solar panels should be on every roof here. We have 322 days of sunshine a year. I like the idea of cooking on a flat stone, although i think I’ll try my egg-frying experiment in a cast-iron pan. -Q

  5. Forgot to tell that not that long ago, when a person committed a murder when the hot desert wind was blowing, he or she was not convicted, for the extreme heat could drive people crazy.

    Wearing white pure cotton! blouses with long sleeves and long wide cotton skirts, will somehow make walking in the sun more bearable. The Bedouins who live in tents in the North African Sahara desert wear many layers of cotton and these people know what they have to do to protect themselves from burning and dehydration.

    —>My morning walking outfit is a long pair of pants, a long-sleeved white cotton shirt, a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. I look like an idiot, but it is not uncomfortable as the long shirt causes air circulation and protects me from frying in the sun. -Q

  6. Yeah, that is very hot weather :-] We have lived under similar circumstances in Morocco in the ’80s and the summerheat was merciless in july/august. I remember that I left a music casette in the car and it had melted and was deformed. Sometimes we endured the hot Sahara winds and it was almost impossible to sleep at night. We took some ‘cold’ showers in the middle of the night to cool down a bit, went straight back to bed all wet and within 10 minutes everything was dry and warm again. We always had water with us during the nights and since then me and my children have kept that habit. Our house had no airconditioning but the walls were very thick and the windows small to keep the heat out.

    Maybe the two of you will be sleeping floating in your swimmingpool in the new house..

    Hope that your cats will cope well with he warm weather.

    —> Love the idea of floating in the pool, napping, keeping cool! the house is air conditioned, but it can cost $400 a month to air condition a house. Morocco sounds even hotter than here! The cats are indoor cats, and I imagine them sprawled on tiles surfaces in the kitchen and entry to keep cool. -Q

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