How to Stay Cool in the Summer

The summer heat is finally upon us! YESSS! It took long enough!

It is about 90° today and humid. Because of my spinal cord injury, I tend to generally be on the cold side so I love the heat! But, since my autonomic nervous system does not function properly it is easy for me and others like me with a spinal cord injury to overheat.

People with a higher level spinal cord injury normally do not sweat below the level of injury. This means our body is not able to cool itself when it starts getting too warm, making us susceptible to overheating and heatstroke.

Even when we do get to cool place, it takes longer to cool off and get back to a more normal temperature.

Since staying cool or at least avoiding overheating is so critical for those of us a spinal cord injury I put together a list of a few things we can do to help our bodies stay or get cool.

Pay Attention to the Basics

it's kind of easy to forget about staying cool until it's too late. Paying attention to the basics when you're outside can definitely help!

When you're spending time outdoors in the heat always keep these basic things in mind:

  • drink lots of water to stay hydrated
  • make it ice water if you can handle the cold
  • stay in the shade
  • don't wait until you feel overheated to work on cooling yourself off
  • scope out the nearest air-conditioned space or fan in case of emergency

Ways to Cool Off

Cooling neck towel

Cooling Neck Towel

I have one of these and it helps me quite a bit in the summer. Ingenious little things.

You wet the towel, wring it out, snap the towel three times to activate cooling technology, and wrap it around your neck for instant cooling.

I've never tested to see how long the cooling effect works, I just know it definitely feels good when I use it! Takes more than this towel to completely cool my body when overheated but it definitely helps!

A great thing to always keep in your backpack so it's with you at all times! 

arctic cool shirt

Arctic Cool Shirts

These shirts are synthetic and made from what they call Hydro Freeze X Technology. The revolutionary fabric wicks away wetness and moisture while lowering your body temperature.

They are super lightweight, machine washable, and are antimicrobial.

Many of the styles provide ultimate sun protection with a certified UPF of 50+!

neck ice pack

Neck / Shoulder Ice Pack

These types of ice packs are filled with a gel that you cool before use and will stay cool longer than ice.

These could be a great thing to cool in the freezer before you head out on your outing. Bring them along in a small cooler to keep them cold until you need it or if you just hang around at someone's house, throw it in their freezer in case you need it.

Cooling my neck and shoulders helps me feel better the quickest, maybe because that's the only body part I actually feel.

These neck and shoulder ice packs come in a variety of sizes and prices; some are pretty inexpensive. You can check out a ton of them here at Amazon.

mountable umbrella

Chair Mounted Umbrella

I have been wanting a chair mounted umbrella forever and just found this Sport-Brella Versa-Brella when writing this blog post!

I love that it's longer in the front to help cover the head, arms, and legs.

It comes in two sizes of regular and XL.

  • Regular spans 40" x 42"
  • XL spans 44" X  44"

This mountable umbrella offers UPF 50+ protection to keep your skin safe from UVA/UVB rays. The silver coating and eye safety tips help you stay burn free.

It keeps you protected from nearly every angle with its 4-way, 360-degree swivel, and push-button hinges.

The umbrella attaches with a durable heavy duty clamp to a tubular or around service.

I haven't tried it yet but it looks as if it will hook onto the backrest post on my wheelchair easily.

clip on fan

Chair Mounted Fan

This one is pretty simple and can probably be purchased anywhere really inexpensively.

A battery-operated or USB chargeable clip-on fan to give yourself a little breeze in the heat.

Just clip it on to your armrest, joystick controller, backrest, etc. to bring a little air movement with you everywhere you go!

Amazon has a ton of really inexpensive options here but I'm sure you could find one at local stores like Walmart or Target as well.

Flo-Master water sprayer Robby Beckman using the Flo-Master

Water Sprayer

A nice mist of water always feels good when it gets too warm outside!

If you have hand function you can purchase a regular old squirt bottle, fill it with cool water, and carry it with you when you head out in the hot weather. When you start feeling to warm just give yourself a few squirts to help you cool off.

Below is a link to Amazon where you can see several different types of and ministers and sprayers. What might work for you depends on your level of hand function.

A sprayer that comes recommended for people with less hand function is the Flo-Master that you can find very inexpensively at places like Home Depot (I couldn't find it available on Amazon at the time of writing this post).

Pay Attention to Your Body

My number one recommendation is to pay attention to your body and how you're feeling.

Don't wait until it's too late to seek air-conditioning or ways to help your body cool off.

Our bodies don't cool normally either and I know for me, it takes a lot longer to cool off than it used to before my accident.

Enjoy the warm weather (I know I absolutely love it) but be sure to take care of yourself at the same time!

Have you tried any of the items recommended above?

Do you have any other ideas of how people with a spinal cord injury can stay cool!

Share your thoughts and ideas below in the comments!