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Simple Steps Can Keep the Sultry Temperatures From Turning You Surly

July 30, 2008

By Catherine Idzerda, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.

Jul. 30–As July meanders into August, the grapes for the classic summer whine ripen to perfection: “It’s sooooo hot.”

About this time every year the heat wilts people until surly, and the added layer of humidity rots them into cranky irritability.

As a public service to sweaty and miserable children whose siblings are touching them–or pretending to touch them without actually touching them–and to parents everywhere, here are a few ways to beat the heat.

Get cool in the pool

Well, duh, everybody knows you go to the pool when it’s hot. But how about going to a different pool?

Janesville, Edgerton Whitewater, Monroe, Brodhead, Fort Atkinson and Evansville all have “aquatic centers”–pools with extras such as slides, zero-depth entry areas and places for tiny tots to play.

Edgerton, for example, has two pools. The lower, zero-depth entry pool has slides and play areas for tots. The upper pool has slides, a place to swim and another place to dive.

Evansville’s pool has a zero-depth area, tree-sprinklers, a diving board and two significant slides.

Fort Atkinson’s pool is a swimming nirvana, complete with a 175-foot waterslide, mini waterslides, a shallow area for tots and a six-lane pool.

Prices for nonresidents in city aquatic centers range from $3 to $5 for adults, and slightly less for children.

Visit a quiet, shady park

Rock County’s park system is full of undiscovered treasures.

“It’s hard to say which county park is best,” said Lori Williams, Rock County Parks Director. “They’re unknown gems.”

Friends groups have worked to clear trails, improve facilities and generally make the parks more welcoming.

“We couldn’t do it without them,” Williams said.

Magnolia Bluff County Park is one of the county’s treasures. When you’re in the park, it’s like stepping out of southern Wisconsin. It’s hard to imagine the bluffs and woods are part of a county that’s mostly corn and soybean fields.

Magnolia Bluff is south of Evansville on Croak Road, about 0.5 miles south of the intersection of Highway 59 and Croak Road.

Leading the way in the “fun for the whole family category” is Beckman Mill County Park and Welty Environmental Center.

The park, which is located at 11600 S. County H, about a mile south of Highway 81, features a large millpond, an innovative and beautiful fish ladder, a variety of wooded paths and a splendid display of wildflowers.

Tours of the mill are available for the historically inclined.

The Welty Environmental Center holds programs for children.

For more information, go to www.weltycenter.org or www.beckmanmill.org.

Gibbs Lake County Park, 9103 W. Gibbs Lake Road, contains almost all of the shoreline of Gibbs Lake and the northern half of the shoreline of Little Gibbs Lake.

Even though it’s home to decent fishing, horseback trails and other recreational opportunities, it’s a surprising quiet place.

Play inside

The trouble with the phrase, “family game night” is that it sounds too perky, too parental.

It’s the kind of idea designed to send self-respecting teens to their bedrooms, where they run up their cell phones bills texting everyone they know, telling them how stupid their parents are.

So don’t call it a family game night. And you might need to bribe them with pizza, or the promise of prizes.

That said, a family game night can be a good way to keep cool without having to resort to an evening in front of the television.

Lisa Wuennemann, director of marketing for Patch Products, Beloit, recommended keeping it simple.

Games with three pages of rules will lead to quarreling.

Her ideas included:

— Repeat Pete!” a version of the “remembering game” many of us played as children. Instead of having to remember what the last person said and then add something to it, players have to remember what the last person did, and than add another activity.

Examples include playing air guitar, spinning like a ballerina, crying like a baby.

Just imagine Dad doing all that stuff.

— “Spoons,” a version of the spoons card game many of us played as children, except with giant colorful spoons instead of the remnants of the silverware drawer.

It’s an irresistible game, and one in which children can best the adults–always very satisfying.

“Toss Up!” is a dice game that’s easy enough for a child to learn but addicting enough to keep a teen engaged.

Find cheap cool spots

Here’s a secret: The best way to keep cool is to get rid of the kids.

No, no, not permanently. Just until they’ve stopped whining about the heat.

If they refuse to spend anytime outside, take them to the library or the mall.

And if all else fails, banish them to the basement.

At least it will be cool down there.

THE MECHANICS OF STAYING COOL

Staying cool is serious business.

Physicians and athletes understand the connection between feeling cool and feeling good.

So do construction workers, public works employees and landscaping crews.

It’s all about body mechanics–and common sense.

Here are the top ways to beat the heat:

— Drink plenty of water.

Water helps regulate body temperature. Have plenty to drink before going out in the sun, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Avoid drinks with alcohol and caffeine, as they actually deplete fluids from your body.

— Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Watch out for fabrics that don’t “breathe.” Dark-colored clothing and hats will absorb the sun. Light-colored clothing will reflect it.

— Avoid the midday sun.

— Wear sunscreen. No, it won’t keep you cool, but it will keep you from getting sunburned. Once you’re sunburned, it’s more difficult for your body to regulate your temperature.

Source: The Mayo Clinic Web site,www.mayoclinic.com, and the American Red Cross

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Janesville Gazette, Wis.

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