Sunday, August 22, 2010

Musings on the Hottest Day in History

We just completed the 3 hottest days of this summer, which quite possibly were the hottest days I've ever experienced in my 22 years thus far.
It was a wretchedly miserable experience, not one I care to repeat ever in my whole life. Allow me to describe.

Imagine being a person who handles heat extremely well, that lives in a hot desert climate and not only chooses to live without air conditioning, but also skips turning on the fan most times in favor of more frugal keep cool methods. Now imagine this same person, when waking up at 6 am, deciding already that the day is just too hot to bear.
Imagine standing, doing nothing, and having more rivers of sweat dripping down your face than an Olympic runner. Imagine turning off all the fans in the house as being near fans feels like being blown on with a space heater. Imagine turning on the water to take a cold shower in the hopes of cooling yourself down, only to discover that the "cold" water pouring out of the faucet is piping hot not matter how long you let it run.
Get the picture?
Unbearable, intolerable, and absolutely disgusting weather. I began to understand what a Thanksgiving turkey might feel as it is headed into the oven. Seriously burning up. And this was with staying inside, in the shade.

For the first day, I managed. You all saw how productive I was on Thursday, but I'll have to be straight forward. Friday and Saturday, I was a serious deadbeat in comparison. Without any decent way to achieve even a modicum of coolness, I did not want to do a single thing. In all honestly, I was not the best mom in the past few days.
Thanks to the inhumane temperatures, I had no energy to take care of a whiny 3 year old and extra clingy 1 year old, made miserable by the same heat that was making me grouchy. I just did the barest minimum, lay in bed pouring ice water over myself (and obviously didn't write any posts). The operative word of the past few days was "survival". (The fact that I have a plugged duct and might be coming down with mastititis did nothing to help the situation.)

It was tough, let me tell you. But we survived it without any scrapes or bruises. My brother is in the local army ended up as one of the three guys in his unit with heat stroke, fortunately not so bad that he needed to be evacuated by stretcher as did the other two. He just lay under the shade of a tree and took it easy.

Heat in and of itself is not dangerous. That the guys in my brothers unit got heatstroke was a result of their being in the field and running out of water. So long as you stay in the shade (or wear a hat) and keep extremely well hydrated,(as long as you don't have any specific health issues) you should be able to get through even the hottest of days without any negative repercussions (according to my dad the doctor).
Sure, you might be unproductive, miserable and unpleasant to be around because you're extremely uncomfortable, but other than that, you're good, even when your melodramatic mind tries to convince you that you're dying. (Although if you're a chicken, that might be true. Many, many poultry farms around here suffered staggering losses because chickens do die in unbearable heat.

For the first time in our lives, my husband and I seriously contemplated getting an air conditioning unit. But you know, even after these miserable few days, I'm not sure if it'll be worth it. Because, for one, I doubt we'll be having a repeat any time soon as these past few days were the hottest days ever recorded in my already hot country. (Yea, it was that bad.)

My thoughts on air conditioning is this:
In many cases, air conditioners mean comfort. Do I want to sacrifice that comfort for the sake of saving a buck or two?

Only, its not only a buck or two. Air conditioners are expensive. Expensive to buy, expensive to fix when they inevitably break, and insanely expensive to run. I am so glad that we're able to keep our electric bills down really low, but know that if we had an air conditioner, we'd definitely be tempted to use it, even on days that until now, we've managed fine without. Everyone I know with an air conditioner has sky high electric bills, and that is something I'd like to avoid.

People sometimes don't realize that sometimes you need to sacrifice one comfort for another comfort that is more important to you. For me, I'll sacrifice temperature comfort for financial comfort. I'll suffer a million other sticky icky miserable days like these ones if it means I didn't have to worry about being able to afford things.
Being able to know that I have enough money in my bank account to pay my rent, pay for food, pay for clothing for my kids, and paying for communication is a whole heck of a lot of comfort.
Financial comfort is very real, yet people dismiss it far too readily in the pursuits of other, more fleeting comforts.

With those hot and miserable days behind us, we're not going to be buying air conditioning units any time in the near future. We managed without, and fortunately, those heat waves do eventually break. For the thousands it would cost us to buy and run an air conditioning unit, I'd be able to find so many better uses. Uses that definitely make us more comfortable than being able to lower the temperature in our home a few degrees.

So no air conditioning for us. We chose financial comfort over climate comfort.

We do have plans though to build a homemade air conditioning unit with very minimal cost to make and run, and if that works out, I do plan on sharing details.

And if there is ever another disgusting heat wave like that, I officially have open invitations to the homes of a few friends and relatives to bask in the coolness of their air conditioning units.

What was the hottest day you ever experienced? Have you ever suffered through a heat wave like I have without air conditioning? How did you manage?

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