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How To Survive The Heat In LA: Hacks And Tips For Staying Cool Without Air Conditioning

Children cool off in the water play area at Grand Park in Los Angeles, California on July 5, 2018 ahead of a coming heatwave in the Los Angeles area. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP / Getty Images)
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Editor's Note: This story was originally published in July 2019, when things were just as hot, but a lot less insane i.e. there wasn't a deadly virus that forced most indoor areas to close. Consequently, this story has been updated to reflect our current nightmare. Cheers!

Warning Signs | Cooling Centers | Pets

Los Angeles is hot and getting hotter, as we delve deeper into the summer season. Even if temperatures don't always reach triple digits, the heat can still take its toll. We have tips to stay cool and protect against heat-related illnesses, and we've also collected maps and links to local cooling centers.

Below you'll find practical advice from health officials, updated local resources, and DIY suggestions from formerly warm people. Do you have a dependable method for hacking your body temperature? Share your coolness on the Twitter.

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In the face of tyrannical temperatures, it's essential to stay hydrated. Failing to drink enough water can result in a number of dangerous defeats -- including, but not limited to, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and death. Not all beverages are on your side. To make sure you're imbibing only allies, follow these basic guidelines:

Tip: Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water or electrolyte-replacements

Tip: Drink cool water, not extremely cold water (which can cause cramps)

Tip: Avoid sweetened drinks, caffeine, and alcohol

The CDC says that in extreme heat, you must increase fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. If engaging in "heavy exercise in a hot environment," they recommend drinking:
2-4 glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids every hour.

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Faintness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Increased thirst


  • Diminished judgment
  • Disorientation
  • Pale and clammy skin
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
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In times of excessive heat, authorities say to dress like you're on vacation. That includes:

  • Hat, preferably with a wide brim
  • Loose-fitting, light-colored, long-sleeve shirts and pants
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses


In L.A., Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties, call 3-1-1 or call for a list of cooling centers.

Tip: Call the center in advance to make sure seating is available.

Tip: If the center you want is at capacity, or non-operational, and you have a car or safe access to public transit, head to the beach, where temps are usually at least 10 degrees cooler.

You can get more details with L.A. County's full updated list of cooling centers here.

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  • Never leave a pet or animal in a garage
  • Never leave a pet or animal in a vehicle
  • Never leave a pet or animal in the sun
  • Provide shade
  • Provide clean drinking water


Check in frequently with family, friends, and neighbors. Offer assistance or rides to those who are sick or have limited access to transportation. And give extra attention to people most at risk, including:

  • Elderly people (65 years and older)
  • Infants
  • Young children
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People with mental illness
  • People taking certain medications (i.e.: "If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot," says the CDC)


  • Kiddie pool
  • Lotions in the fridge
  • Eat spicy foods in the basement (or on the floor) while wearing a damp shirt and listening to the rain setting on your white noise machine
  • Make sure ceiling fans are running counterclockwise
  • Wet paper towels. Fold into ankle and wrist cuffs. Freeze. Wear. Repeat.
  • Build a DIY AC
  • Build a mini cold air fan
  • Build an "evaporative cooler for immediate heat relief"
  • Make a barricade of fans and ice cubes
  • Go to an air-conditioned store and browse for as long as possible (Target is a good option for this).
  • Close all the curtains, preferably the heat-absorbing kind
  • Or open all the windows, depending on the breeze situation
  • Cool bath or shower twice a day
  • Wash your sheets before bed but don't dry them -- put them on your bed damp (provided you're dealing with a dry heat)
  • Portable A/C unit

You can also check out some of our other previous stories about heat hacks:

For information on open cooling centers during the pandemic:

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