A creative way to keep cool: Turn off the AC, turn on the sprinkler

The other night, Madeline and I were melting. My seven-year-old friend and I were wilting like a daisy in an oven. The mercury had hit 97 degrees, and we were simmering. She dreamed about climbing in the refrigerator and "chilling out." I considered the freezer, but knew I wouldn't fit. So we both hovered in front of the open fridge when her parents

weren't looking. Then we spotted her dad watering the flowers. Soon, she was squealing with delight as her dad abandoned the peonies and turned the hose on her.

The point is, instead of stewing about the weather, put your thinking cap on and make your own summer fun.

Don't assume you have to have a swimming pool or an air-conditioned house to stay cool says Penny Warner, author of "Splish Splash: Water Fun for Kids." She notes that you'll be surprised how quickly a hose or bucket of water can turn kids and adults into water revelers.

"Water keeps people lively," says Ms. Warner, author of more than 30 books about children. "We have to get ourselves out of the air conditioning and into the water." She says it is easy for people to crank the air conditioning and sit and watch TV.

"If you fall into that trap your whole summer will be gone," says Warner. She says you can invent games such as trying to pop balloons by sitting on them in a plastic pool or passing a bucket of cold water person to person blindfolded. FamilyFun magazine suggests the following cool games.

*Splash tag. Take a big sponge and a bucket of water. Play the traditional game of tag but instead of tagging the person with your hand, throw the sponge. If you get hit, you're it.

*Musical sprinkler. With the sprinkler turned off and someone manning the faucet, the players run, jump, and generally goof off around the sprinkler. When it is turned on, they freeze in position and get doused until the person at the faucet deems they're sufficiently soaked. Then it starts again.

*Cold potato. Using a pin, poke a hole in a water-filled balloon. Form a circle of people and pass around the balloon. The idea is that you don't want to be holding the balloon when the water runs out. But, depending how hot it is, it may feel better to lose this game than win.

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