How to beat the heat? Five tips from Arizona

St. Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago and several other Midwest cities already have broken heat records this week. Here are five tips from Phoenix, Arizona, on how to beat the heat.

(AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)
Children play in the spray of an open fire hydrant Thursday, July 5, 2012 on Chicago's south side. Chicago hit 103 degrees as oppressive heat slams the middle of the country with record temperatures that aren't going away after the sun goes down.

Phoenicians have learned a thing or two about surviving scorching summer days. And folks in the nation's middle section could use the advice.

St. Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago and several other Midwest cities already have broken heat records this week or are on the verge of doing so.

The National Weather Service said the record-breaking heat that has baked the nation's midsection for several days was slowly moving into the mid-Atlantic states and Northeast. Excessive-heat warnings remained in place Friday for all of Iowa, Indiana and Illinois as well as much of Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Kentucky.

IN PICTURES: Beating the summer heat

St. Louis hit a record high of 105 on Wednesday and a record low of 83. In Wisconsin, the coolest Milwaukee and Madison got was 81 in the early morning, beating previous low records by 2 and 4 degrees respectively. Temperatures didn't fall below 79 in Chicago, 78 in Grand Rapids, Mich., and 75 in Indianapolis.

"When a day starts out that warm, it doesn't take as much time to reach high temperatures in the low 100s," said Marcia Cronce, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "You know it'll be a warm day when you start out at 80 degrees."

For people in other parts of the country who aren't used to hearing the weather man say, "It'll be cooling down to 105 tomorrow," here are a few unique tips from the Valley of the Sun:

1. Keep your ride cool. Those cumbersome windshield reflectors are your new best friend. And if you have young children, buy an extra one to strap over a car seat to keep metal clasps from heating up in the sun as your car sits in the parking lot. You might even throw an ice pack or frozen water bottle in the seat to keep it cool for little ones while you shop.

2. Get creative about sleeping arrangements. Set up beds on a porch or back yard. Or just sleep in the shade, during the heat of the day.

3. Avoid the sun. Sure, sunscreen helps. But you can avoid it altogether by waking up and doing yard work before sunrise or going for your daily run at midnight.

4. Think before you touch. Any surface that sits in the sun could be hot enough to burn. There's no shame in using pot holders to open doors. Also, carry a towel to put on hot seats, and keep curtains pulled tight to block out the rays.

5. Water is your friend. Drink it. Swim in it. Spray it on your face. In Phoenix, shopping centers and cafes greet visitors by showering them with a fine, cool mist. You can get the same effect by filling a spray bottle with water.

And if all this talk about smoldering temperatures is getting you down, look on the bright side. You can always bake cookies on the dashboard of your car. We really do that.

IN PICTURES: Beating the summer heat

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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