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Keeping kids cool - without the A/CSummertime in New York City is no joke—it’s hot, humid, and there is virtually no breeze. Top all that off with roughly 8 million people jammed onto one very small island and you’ve got a recipe for one sticky, sweaty summer. These days, most buildings come with central air, but what if you don’t have air conditioning or simply don’t want to run it as often? Here, a few eco-friendly (and economic) ways to keep the whole family cool—without cranking up the A/C.

Get outside early

The morning can be a great time to get out and get some exercise—and the earlier the better. Have your child help you pack a picnic of breakfast foods to take to the park, or take your bikes out and ride around the neighborhood—getting kids outside before the temperatures start to rise will keep them active during the summer months and help avoid the inevitable crankiness and discomfort that the late-afternoon hot weather can dredge up.

Keep your house as cool as possible

It may seem counterintuitive, but keep shades drawn and windows closed during the day, since sunlight streaming through your windows can create a mini greenhouse effect in your home, and leaving windows open lets warm air in and cool air out. At night, keep your windows wide open—as long as the nighttime air is cooler than the air inside your home—this will allow cool air to circulate and help keep your house cool during the day. Another tip? Plant a tree—or place a big potted plant—along the side of the house or in front of the windows to absorb some of the sun’s rays.

Eat cold snacks

Just like drinking cold beverages, eating cold foods can help cool your body from the inside out on a hot day. Frozen grapes are still one of my favorite summertime snacks, or have your child help make lemonade pops or a cold soup. If you do cook, try to avoid using the stove or oven, as they’ll only heat your home up more. In fact, try to keep most electronics and appliances off and unplugged (even when in standby mode, they tend to stay hot).

Keep plenty of water on hand

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s definitely worth repeating—water is the easiest way to stay cool. Whether taking the kids for a dip at the pool or downing an icy beverage, you’ll feel immediate relief. Not up for swimming, but still want to get your child outside? Soak his t-shirt in water before going outdoors—just make sure it’s lukewarm, as cold water can sometimes be too chilly. At night, give kids a cool bath before putting them in cotton or linen jammies—these natural fabrics tend to be more lightweight and breathable than fabrics made from synthetic fibers like nylon or polyester.

What about you? How do you keep your family cool in the summer?

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