With temperatures climbing into the 90s and the dew point hovering in the upper 60s and lower 70s, weather in the Twin Cities is officially hot and sticky. You may know it as the cold-showers-only kind of weather. Or the never-leaving-the-house kind of weather.
Here are some tips for getting through these sultry summer days.
1. Don’t mess with your thermostat.
The best way to beat the heat inside when it’s this warm is simple: Keep your hands off that air conditioning unit. “I typically tell people not to monkey with them during a heat wave,” said Rick Welter, owner of Welter Heating, based in Minneapolis. Avoid changing the temperature on your AC and don’t use the programmable thermostat when it’s this hot, Welter said. Instead, set it at a comfortable temperature and let the unit maintain it. Welter also said that changing the furnace filter can be helpful, since that’s one of the main causes of an air conditioning unit freezing up.
At Standard Heating and Air Conditioning, service manager Tim Adams suggested keeping the blinds drawn and minimizing opening exterior doors. Instead of cooking (and heating the house), now might be a good time to fire up the grill or eat out. Adams also advised running the furnace blower motor constantly. The furnace blower motor may be marked as “fan” on the thermostat. Turn it to the “on” setting, rather than keeping it on the “automatic” setting. This will cycle air through the house continuously, which is especially important in a multi-level house, Adams said. - Erin Adler
2. Head to the splash pad.
If you don’t have access to a pool and wouldn’t know how to bust open a fire hydrant if you tried (it’s illegal anyway), why not check out a splash pad? These sprinkler-filled playgrounds keep kids cool and endlessly entertained with various fountains, sprinklers, spray hoses and dump buckets. Most splash pads are accessible to people of all ages and abilities. And, since there’s no standing water, you can let little ones explore and play freely. We compiled a list of our favorite local splashpads. Best of all? They’re free.
3. Grab a cone.
Star Tribune food critic Rick Nelson recently recommended four great spots for soft serve ice cream in the Twin Cities. From glittery cones piled high with toppings to classic chocolate-and-vanilla twists, you’ve got a checklist of places to go. Of course, on a really hot day the best soft serve is the closest soft serve, so you’ve probably pinpointed the nearest ice cream stand or Dairy Queen already. But if you’re willing to venture out of your neighborhood to try some other Twin Cities delights, Rick has some unexpected picks for you – including ice cream from a chocolate store and a coffee shop. Not a soft serve fan? Rick has 12 scoops of the hard stuff for you.
4. Keep your pets cool and safe.
Veterinarians have a clear message for pet owners during a heat wave: Now is not the time to let your cat roam or to take your dog for a long afternoon walk. “I primarily do ER, so I do see some heat stroke dogs,” said Dr. Natasha Novik of Edina Pet Hospital. “It can turn grim pretty quickly."
Pet owners should limit their animals’ time outside during steamy summer days, instead keeping them inside with ready access to water. If you walk your dog, do so early in the morning and avoid surfaces like blacktop, which can singe pets’ paws, Novik said. Dogs can go out to relieve themselves, she said, but shouldn’t be outdoors for more than 20 minutes. Never leave dogs unattended in cars when it’s this hot. Owners of short-snouted or flat-faced dogs, such as bulldogs or boxers, should be extra cautious because these dogs already have breathing challenges, she said. “Heat really brings them to a whole other level,” she said. Signs of distress in dogs include heavy panting, a dark red tongue or gums, drooling, staggering, vomiting or diarrhea, Novik said.
Cats should stay indoors with access to air conditioning and a fan for back-up. Ensure that felines aren’t stuck in a single room, Novik said, in case that room gets a lot of sun. Cats may act restless, pant, drool, vomit or groom themselves excessively when they get too hot. Pets exhibiting these signs should be taken to the vet immediately. - Erin Adler
5. To the cinema!
Movie theaters and air conditioning are the real Hollywood star couple. Since the advent of air conditioning in the early 20th century, movie theaters have used that blast of cold air to lure the sweaty masses into the cool, dark escape of a summer blockbuster. If you take in a late-afternoon movie, you might even end up needing a sweater, as multiplexes often ramp up the AC in preparation for the evening’s bigger audiences What to see while you’re cooling your jets – and everything else? If you’re going as a family, check out “Toy Story 4,” the latest animated adventure of Sheriff Woody. For music fans, “Rocketman,” the musical bioflick of Elton John from the same director as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” is as stylishly uninhibited as the man on which it focuses. And for a dose of inspiration, look no further than “Maiden,” a documentary about the first all-female crew to compete in an around-the-world sailing competition. - Jeff Strickler
6. Hit the beach -- but choose wisely.
“The beaches were super busy over the weekend,” said Kristina Saksvig, communications manager for economic growth and community investment in Ramsey County. But some popular spots, including the Thomas Avenue and 32nd Street beaches on Lake Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska and the beaches at Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis and Lake McCarrons County Park in Ramsey County, are closed because of e. coli contamination.
There are still plenty of good spots to swim or put your toes in the sand, maybe with a side of volleyball at Lake George or Centerville beach in Anoka County? In Minneapolis, you can work up an appetite swimming at Lake Nokomis and then chow down at the Sandcastle concession stand. Three Rivers Park District, which covers the west metro, reports that all eight of its beaches and two swim ponds are open, and some get visits from food trucks.
As you go in for the plunge, park officials ask that you keep an eye out for your fellow Minnesotans trying to beat the heat. “Since swimming areas are very busy, it is important to monitor small children and other swimmers closely at all times,” said Andy Soltvedt, operations and visitors services manager with Anoka County Parks. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen. - Danish Raza