Some modest proposals for beating the impending heat

The quirky wet weather Tucson experienced last week is no reason for complacency. Our record-tickling temperatures during the first two weeks of March are more of an indicator of the kind of heat we can expect any day now.

But don't start planning to relocate to Alaska quite yet. There are time-tested measures available to help keep summer in the city bearable, if not blissfully comfortable. If you follow these suggestions, you may make it through our fast-approaching season of swelter only slightly fried rather than suffering a complete meltdown.

Avoid being outdoors anytime the sun is shining. Remember: The sun is the enemy, and there is no point in making yourself a willing target for its brutal rays. If you must venture out while UV numbers are in the double digits, take care.

Make sure you are well slathered in a sunscreen with an adequate SPF number.

Don't bother messing around with those wimps numbered 30 or 45. Something more than 100 SPF should do it. If you have trouble finding it, check out outfitters specializing in trips to Antarctica.

Wear no color darker than beige. There are several cutting-edge shades of white available including yogurt, spit, cracker, old snow and pasty, to name a few. Above all, unless you enjoy walking around impersonating a solar cooker, never wear black. And always wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Tell your employer you won't be available to work days until late October. If that doesn't fly, generously offer to work from home during regular business hours. And if that proposal isn't accepted, it's time to consider the joys of working nights.

There are plenty of employment opportunities available on the graveyard shift. You can have your pick among convenience-store clerk, gas-station attendant, newspaper bundler, emergency-room admissions sentry or security guard, just to name a few. All of these high-paying positions are sure to give your career a boost, while keeping you out of the sun.

OK, so you've gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid daylight hours, but out of necessity find yourself forced to venture out while the sun is beating down in all its gaseous-hot fury. Maybe your dog needs to go to the vet, or you've been called to jury duty, or your refrigerator holds nothing but three-week-old milk and a jar of pickles, and imminent starvation means a trip to Trader Joe's can't be put off any longer, or you need to go to the doctor to get a malaria shot before heading to some poor, forgotten, disease-ridden country with an unpronounceable name.

Whatever. The point is, you need all the help you can get to see you through an asphalt-melting trip outdoors. In addition to the suggestions offered above, here are a few more precautions you can take before tackling the blinding light of day.

Take yourself to the nearest drugstore and buy one of those rolled neck scarves with the crystals inside. After soaking it thoroughly, place it in the refrigerator. There is some disagreement on the necessity of refrigeration among devotees; you'll have to experiment. In less than an hour, the scarf will expand and solidify (thereby resembling a cloth sausage), and the crystals will get very cold. Place the sausage scarf around your neck, and be prepared for some serious chilling. One caveat: You may discover you've given yourself the worst stiff neck of your life since neck muscles aren't designed to act as ice-cube trays. But hey, would you rather deal with a temporarily (we hope) immovable neck or heat stroke?

If you don't mind looking like a geek, buy a solar-powered cap with a small fan attached to the front. The fan blows across you face, but given the blistering temperature, it's questionable how much cooling you'll experience.

Should you need to make a quick trip outside, you can turn yourself into a human swamp cooler. Immediately after a warm shower, and without drying off, stand naked in front of a large fan. The teeth-chattering cold will keep you comfy for about the time it takes to run to the mailbox. Do remember to toss on some wet clothes first.

Finally, if you've tried everything and you're still sweltering, there is one sure-fire way to get immediate relief. This method is not for the self-conscious, but if you get over feeling ridiculous, you'll be in cool city. It's rumored politicians wear two adult diapers while campaigning during those long, hot summers before Election Day. You can, too!

Place a large quantity of crushed ice between them. Expect to make several trips to the bathroom over the course of the day to dump what's melted before refilling with ice. And one more thing: Whatever you do, don't sit down.

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