John Rawlins tries to find heat relief

July 20, 2011 3:35:30 PM PDT
My assignment today: how to keep cool in the midst of a heat wave?

With pavement temperatures in the 140 degree range it isn't easy.

What are folks doing and what's available to help?

I find a busy place - the air conditioning aisle at the Home Depot and so far no shortages.

"When people are done work, 4 or 5 o'clock, traffic builds up?we have plenty of stock, so everyone's coming in, buying the units they need," Frank Pomarico said.

The cost of a small room unit at Home Depot is between $100 and $200.

However, the anticipated impact is priceless.

"I had a room with a fan in the window, I don't think I would be able to get by with that, so I had to get an air conditioner," customer Gregg Leap said.

But there was no air conditioning outside for painter Thomas Harding. His cooling focus was fluids.

"I drink about six of [bottles of water] a day, before I go to bed at night, I drink about four," Harding said.

In the last few years, there has been an explosion of special personal cooling devices, from a $180 shirt with cooling tubes available online, to insulated hard hat liners, to a cooling bra (complete with an icepack).

At REI in Conshohocken, they stock a $10 Kool tie that has special crystals which absorb cold water overnight, and then you wear it during a hot day.

REI's Mike Ebner used one yesterday.

"I'm not going to say it's like sitting in air conditioning, but it's much better than if you're sitting doing nothing," Ebner said.

At a nearby Pets Plus, they sell and use a stone tile to help cool Angora rabbits who are wearing their own sweaters.

"You can mist it with some water, keep it in the refrigerator, put it out in morning so that way, it's cool for them," Lindsay Malkiel of Pets Plus said.

Finally, we met K.K., an Australian traveling by skateboard, and armed with ice tea; she embraces this heat, saying she detests winter.

"The snows everywhere, I'm falling over, I can't start my car; I'm complaining, I'm complaining, so why would I complain about this day when it's so beautiful?" K.K. said. "I'm embracing the heat because I do enough complaining in the winter."

Well what can I say? It takes all kind to make a world. Some of us embrace the heat, some of us, myself included, embrace the air conditioners.