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How to have fun this summer in spite of Covid-19 and extreme heat

By Scottie Andrew, CNN Illustration by Leah Abucayan, CNN

It really is a cruel summer.

This is not the summer of kissing strangers or gallivanting all day until the sun goes down. No; this summer we are once again drowning in oceans of our own perspiration, thanks to dangerously high temperatures, and anxiously hiding out from the newest Covid-19 variant.

We may not be able to beat the heat (or existential dread), but doggone it, we can have fun anyway. Here’s how you can enjoy the rest of the summer that won’t put you at as high of a risk of Covid-19 infection and heat exhaustion.

(Note: Very few activities are absolutely risk-free when it comes to catching Covid-19, so use caution, especially if you do any of these activities with others. CNN expert Dr. Leana Wen has guidance for staying safe during this latest Covid-19 surge.

Spending time outside during periods of intense heat can also be dangerous, so familiarize yourself with symptoms of heatstroke, heat rash and heat exhaustion. CNN Health also offers guidance on how to stay safe from the heat.)


Catch the sunrise at the beach. If you’re lucky enough to live near the water, take advantage of your proximity to the beach — just make sure you get there really early. It won’t be as blisteringly hot or busy yet, so when the beach fills with families and the sun fully rises, it’s your cue to scramble for shade and AC.

Take an umbrella to the park. Hear me out — sitting out under the sun without a shady respite will roast you, stuff you and make you fit to be served at Thanksgiving dinner. It might feel silly to spend a day outside underneath an umbrella when it’s not raining, but at least your skin will be partially protected from the sun’s oppressive rays. Imagine yourself in the Victorian era, strolling through a regal garden under a dainty parasol.

Treat yourself. Even as it feels like our institutions are crumbling around us, ice cream remains perfect. If you’re craving sweets, a limited dose of sunshine and socialization, meet your friends for a cone outside an ice cream shop with ample outdoor seating to check off all three.

Slip and slide. This one requires a grassy area with access to a hose. But if you or a friend have these things, get a slip-and-slide or other easy-to-install water features to splash around on — do it for those of us who cannot. Imagine the sweet relief of belly-flopping onto a wet, rubbery sheet and sliding through a sprinkler. It’s not just for kids!

Seek shade in nature. It’s definitely too hot to go on a desert hike right now. But if you live near a botanical garden or arboretum, take advantage of the natural shade and breezes. You might even happen upon some birds or other forest creatures, and you can observe their tricks for keeping cool.


Invest in a kiddie pool. You don’t even need a yard for this one. These plastic tubs are easy enough to blow up manually and small enough to fit in your living room, if you want to splash around while binging “90 Day Fiancé.” It can also double as a bathtub for your pet, a beer cooler, a basin for hand-washing your delicates — this is an investment in your future.

Curate a personal film festival. Tu ne peux pas aller à Cannes. But you can feel like a true cinephile from the couch with a carefully curated movie marathon. During this writer’s bout with Covid, I cued up several kids’ movies that I used to watch when I was too sick to go to school. I’m talking “The Incredibles,” “Lilo and Stitch,” “Shrek 2” — greatest hits here, people! My colleague Leah Asmelash recently did the same with a string of Denzel Washington films. Why not choose a genre, director or star you like and just bulldoze through their filmography?

Sing your heart out with karaoke. Chances are, if there’s a song you want to sing, then there’s a backing track for it on YouTube (bless whoever makes them for obscure ditties from forgotten musicals; this author is grateful). While a cheap wireless microphone might help fuel your pop star fantasy, a hairbrush or kitchen spatula are also acceptable items to sing into.

Get really into puzzles. I’d stay inside all day to do a puzzle even if the weather was beautiful and Covid-19 was but a twinkle in our collective eye. But now I have a reason to do it without feeling like I’m shunning humanity! Maybe, by the time the sticky heat of summer becomes the less sticky, hopefully brisker winds of fall, you’ll have worked your way up to 2,000-piece puzzles. (And if the thought is daunting, CNN has an illustrated guide on how to start and finish a puzzle.)

Learn a TikTok dance. This one is easier said than done, sure, but why not? What else do we have going on? I bet if you watch Lizzo and acolytes do the “About Damn Time” dance on a loop, you, too will bust a move with the bet of them. But if that’s not your speed, you can freestyle or create your own choreography.

Read a ridiculously long book. “Infinite Jest.” “Anna Karenina.” “It.” Anything Jonathan Franzen. The thick volumes sitting on your shelf have taunted you for years — now’s the time to crack them open. And maybe even finish them!

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