Heat Wave Tips From Someone Who Survived a NYC Summer Sans A/C or Fan


Summer temperatures in New York, while never particularly agreeable, are about to get SO HOT (close to 100 degrees!). The city has announced a heat advisory for the next few days, and is opening hundreds of “cooling centers” where you can go hang out in an air-conditioned Salvation Army or something.

The city has a number of tips for beating the heat, among them using fans and air conditioning, drinking water, staying out of the sun, and such. I have a few tips of my own, having survived last summer in a sixth-floor Lower East Side walk-up without an air conditioner OR A FAN.


1. Hang out in your roommates’ rooms when they’re not around

Both of my roommates had A/C, but I did not. When they were out, I would go into one of their rooms, turn on the air conditioner, and lie motionless on the bed until I felt less like death (hopefully you’re not reading this, Skye and Scott!). I suggest you do the same.

2. Unnecessary showering

Shower multiple times a day. Cold, wonderful showers. The NYC Office of Emergency Management says to “be careful if you take a cold shower to stay cool — sudden temperature changes can make you feel dizzy or sick,” but personally, I never felt anything but fabulous for the five minutes post-shower when I was still relatively cool.

3. Drink a lot

A good thing to do is drink a lot of cold, glorious Colt 45 forties from the bodega downstairs. Not only does it hydrate (alcohol hydrates, right?) but it’s affordable and will aid you in falling asleep in a humid pit of despair.

4. No curtains? Use towels!

After a while, I figured out that my lack of curtains was only exacerbating the problem. Sunlight — horrible, bright sunlight — would literally assault my face at 7 a.m. sharp. The solution? Towels! Although this will leave you with no towels to use after doing tip #2 (see above).

5. Eventually give in and get a fan

If you wake up one night at 3 a.m., trapped in a tangle of sweaty sheets and doom, it’s time to recognize that this can’t go on any longer. I made it two months before finally sucking it up and getting a $15 fan from Rite Aid. ‘Course, by that time, the heat wave was over, but there’s always next summer.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 5, 2010

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