If you have to be outside in the heat right now, it can be very dangerous. Keeping your body from overheating can be very difficult, even when you take all the precautions. All medical experts recommend drinking two bottles of water an hour (minimum!) to keep your body hydrated. In addition to that, I recommend something commonly known as a neck cooler or ‘cool tie’ to keep your body temperature lower and to make the heat not quite as bad. The neck cooler is actually one of the most efficient, safe ways to stay cool, because it literally cools the blood in major artories moving through your neck, keeping blood pressure lower and heat stroke at bay.
What is a neck cooler? Simply put, it is a simple fabric tube filled with some sort of cooling gel or ice pack that you wrap around your neck during the heat of the day. My mom shows you how you can make them yourself for a few dollars with this tutorial over on her blog, or purchase them online from etsy for only $3.50 each. We’ve made them ourselves before and used them all over the place: at the beach, during outdoor sporting events, at DisneyWorld, and at outdoor work events. Believe it or not, these things make a huge difference! In my last job I did a lot of promotional events during the summer, almost always outdoors, and often in 90+ degree heat. I’d bring a handful of these for myself and our promotions team–they saved me from heat stroke more than once! For us they typically stay cold/cool for about 3-4 hours at a time. I often have a hard time in the extreme heat because of my thyroid issues, but I’ve found these work wonders at keeping my body cool.
Each neck cooler tutorial will have its own directions, but here’s a few tips:
- Unless they specifically tell you to do so, do NOT freeze them. We learned this the hard way. They become stiff and solid and don’t actually wrap around your neck anymore! As they thaw, they release a lot more water than they normally do, leaving you wet as well.
- When making them yourselves, do not overfill them with water crystals. With water crystals, a little goes a long way. If you overfill them, when you soak them in water the crystals will overexpand and begin to seep through the fabric, leaving it (and you) a gooey mess.
- Soak them in water, gently squeeze out the excess, then put them in the refrigerator overnight. I suggest carrying them with you in plastic bags inside a cooler until you need them.
- When ready to store them for the winter, set them out flat in the sun for several hours. The sun will slowly evaporate the moisture in the crystals until they dry out, and they will flatten down to where you can barely feel the crystals.
- If you aren’t a fan of the water gel crystals, you can use rice instead. Do not soak them, but put them in the freezer overnight, dry. The rice will stay cool and release the cold slowly. These do not get as cold nor last as long as the gel, but it is a good option for those who don’t want the dampness of the gel.
- When making your own neck cooler, you can leave enough fabric to tie the end, or create a small button-style slit on one end, so you can pull the other end through it. This is what we do, making them lay flat and look nicer when we wear them.
It can be hard to keep the kids indoors on a day like today, and especially when you’ve got a long stretch of extreme heat like we’ve been experiencing the past week. Having these at hand gives you a little more peace of mind about sending the kids out to play for short bursts of time. I’ve even taken my cool ties to the pool, for when I’m out of the water.