Putting yourself in the proper frame of mind can help you beat the heat as much as plugging in the air conditioner, psychologists say.
"It's a time for people to learn to remain cool," said Michael R. Mantell, chief psychologist for the San Diego Police Department. He was attending the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association."Stop telling yourself it's awful. It's just hot," Mantell said. "At the very worst, it's an inconvenience."
"It is very comforting to think and to realize that it could be worse," he said.
Though rainfall eased drought conditions in parts of the Midwest, much of the nation continued to swelter Saturday, and power consumption and temperature rec-ords fell.
"This is like Brazil," said Mel Goldstein, director of the weather center at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. "It's tropical weather, with high heat and the water vapor just absolutely saturating the atmosphere."
The temperature reached 90 degrees shortly after noon Saturday in Windsor Locks, Conn. It was the 12th day of the month with temperatures at 90 or above, breaking the August record of 11 days with more than half the month still to go.
In New York City, Saturday was the 30th straight day with temperatures in the 90s. Consolidated Edison said electricity use set a record Friday, while in Boston, heat-related power outages affected more than 6,000 customers.
Temperatures in that range may have an effect on the safety of a top summer pastime. A study released at the meeting Saturday suggests baseball batters get beaned by pitches more often when the temperature is in the 90s, maybe because the heat makes pitchers more aggressive.
It's not so much that the beanballs are deliberate, but rather the pitchers may be trying to move batters back from the plate, prodded by discomfort from the heat, said researcher Alan Reifman.
"You might plan to throw it close, and your aim is a little off," he said.
He and colleagues found that in 21 games analyzed for which the temperature was in the 90s, pitchers racked up an average of 0.57 hit batters per game. For the remainder of the total 215 games in the study, the highest average for cooler weather was 0.33, for games played in the 80s. Lower rates were found for games at lower temperatures.
Mantell suggested that one strategy for coping with the heat is to spend some time alone and take an occasional break from life's stresses.
"Your thinking can be an internal thermometer to lower the temperature to what it is outside, instead of what you've exaggerated it to," he said.
Parents should distract their children from focusing on the heat, and they should model a cool mental attitude for the children to see, he said.
A good line of approach is, "Boy, it sure is hot, it sure is uncomfortable, but it will pass. I can tolerate it," Mantell said.