Surviving Shanghai’s Brutal Summers

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“Brutal” is the word that comes up most frequently when describing summers in Shanghai. As we are right on the cusp of spring and summer, it’s time to prepare for what surely will be another brutal summer. Here are some tips to have a cool and healthy one:

20. Turn off the AC / Turn on the fan
Running AC wastes energy and makes up a huge chunk your summer expenses. Some ACs also use chemicals that after long exposures can make you feel sick. Plus, you are undermining yourself by running AC on HIGH all the time as your body doesn’t adjust as well to the heat outside. Save the AC for emergencies/special occasions you when absolutely can’t bear the heat anymore.

A desk fan, ceiling fan, or standing fan all require less energy and can regulate the temperature of a room (not too hot, not too cold). If you need immediate gratification, try putting an ice cube on your forehead while a fan blows into your face directly. In minutes, you should feel relieved, all without using your AC.

Get small fans from Taobao for cheap!!

19. Use the Window Method
Open your windows at night and use fans to circulate the cool air. When you wake up in the morning, close the windows and shades on the eastern and southern sides of your home to keep out the heat as long as possible. As the sun passes it’s high point (around noon), open up the south and east windows and close the opposite sides of the house.

18. Get Blackout Curtains Installed
You can buy curtains that completely block all sunlight. Not only does this keep your house cool, it also keeps your bedroom dark allowing for better sleep. It sucks having the sun wake you up at 5am every morning for three months. There are some home furnishing outlets near Yishan Road metro station that have these. Go to an information desk and ask for 遮光窗帘 (zhēguāng chuānglián). They are about 85RMB per square meter.

17. Put Cosmetics in the Refrigerator
If you have cosmetics, lotions, or even soaps that melt easily in the heat, store it in the refridgerator. This also works for candles.

16. Don’t Take Metro or Bus at Rush Hour / Try Alternate Routes
If you can help it, avoid public transportation from 8-9am and 5-6pm, the busiest times. It’s no fun being spooned by a 2000 sweaty people before having your morning iced coffee. Alternately, try other routes/lines. The newer metro lines are not only less crowded, but the stations are more equipped than the older ones at dealing with heat and masses of people.

15. Chill out Before Sleeping
Fill a standard water bottle with ice water. Use it to cool your ankles, back of your knees, and head. You can also try bagging your sheets and tossing them in the freezer for an hour before bed.

14. Carry a Water Bottle
Carry something that you can refill with water all day long. This encourages you to stay hydrated and it’s cheaper than buying bottled water all day. You can also splash a little water on your face whenever you need a quick cooling fix.

13. Go Easy on the Booze
Alcohol and heat are generally not a good combination. Alcohol dehydrates your body and also increases blood flow to the surface of your body which makes you feel hot and causes you to sweat. But, who doesn’t like sitting on a patio having a drink in the middle of the day? So…

12. If you Must Drink Alcohol…
Mix it with sparkling water, club soda, fresh fruit, or fruit juice. They provide vitamins and hydration. Stay away from caffeinated mixers. In fact, here’s a list of summer drink recipes that are appropriate for summertime drinking. Having a glass of water with every glass of spirit doesn’t hurt either.

11. Wear Sunglasses and Lightly-Colored Hats
Keep the sun out of your eyes and face. Hats also regulate your body temperature.

10. Wear light-colored, cotton clothes
Cotton allows your skin to breathe better than elastics and polyester. Light colors refract sunlight while dark colors absorb. Basic physics ya’ll!!

9. Carry An Umbrella / Sunscreen
If you’ll be out all day, avoid sunstroke and sunburn by applying sunscreen. You can also go with the Chinese method and carry an umbrella to block the sun. I personally find that annoying, but it’s still an option.

8. Drink Tea, not Coffee
Both provide a caffeine boost, but tea rehydrates the body while coffee dehydrates.

7. Consume Veggies and Seafood
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, fish and fruits are “cooling” and can help cool your body. Red meat and fatty foods are “warming.”

6. Eat Light and Eat Often
The more calories you consume, the more metabolism required, thus heating up your body. Eating a big meal will subsequently spike your body temperature and make you feel uncomfortable in the heat. Eating many small meals throughout the day keeps your metabolism and body temperature regulated.

5. Go Easy on the Street Food, Especially Meats
Street food goes mostly unregulated so it would be wise to stay away from raw meat sticks that are exposed in the heat.

Optimal temperature for bacterial strains such as E. coli is 37°C, the equivalent to a very hot summer day in Shanghai.

4. Take an Afternoon Siesta
The hours of 1-4pm are the hottest. When you are sweaty and stuffy, you are less productive at work. If you can help it, use part of this time to take a nap, meditate, or simply do something that requires little movement like reading a book.

3. Take a Cold/Tepid Shower
Saves energy, lowers body temperature and feels good.

2. Wear Less Clothes
This is especially important if you are an attractive female. It is “scientifically” proven that wearing less clothes keeps the body strong and healthy. I swear. This doctor/scientist dude told me. Just remember to put on sunscreen if you will be in the sun for long periods of time.

1. Leave Shanghai
If you are a student or teacher, you probably are leaving anyways. Spend Shanghai’s hottest months somewhere cooler (no pun intended). Take the boat to Japan or the train to Northern Yunnan. Air Asia has cheap flights from Hangzhou to Australia and New Zealand (its winter down there). Little advice…Beijing is no cooler than Shanghai (pun intended).

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