You can only chill out at the air-conditioned mall or movie-theater for so long. Eventually, you have to return to your sweltering abode. Here are some tips to help you cope with the oppressive heat, especially if your house or apartment lacks A/C:

Keep shades or curtains drawn and windows closed during the day. Open them at night. Also leave doors to the attic and basement open 24/7.

Turn off as many lights as possible (especially those with iridescent bulbs, which emit heat) and avoid using the oven or stove. Power down all you can.

Store a towel in the freezer and drape it over your head when you come home. Put pajamas and pillowcases in the fridge or freezer to cool you off when going to bed. And put bras and panties in the freezer overnight. Keep lotion in the fridge.

Put a bowl of ice or frozen water bottles in front of a fan. It will blow cooler air. Or cover your skin with minty or menthol products and stand in front of the fan.

Roll up throw rugs and carpets to expose cooler floor surfaces.

Avoid eating a lot of high-protein foods (meats, fish, eggs, cheese), which produce metabolic heat. Try instead vegetable and fruit salads and cold soups, cold sandwiches, and of course, frozen treats. In addition to sorbets and ices, freeze other liquids you wouldn't think of milk, juice, smoothies, even plain water into Popsicle form.

Eat spicy food as they do in the hot climates of Mexico or India. It causes you to perspire, cooling the body.

Drink iced tea or water with lemon; they're thirst-quenching and cooling. Sodium and sugar in soft drinks increase thirst.

Put ice in a plastic newspaper delivery bag, knot it at the end and roll it inside a bandanna. Tie bandanna around your neck.

Wear natural fibers such as cotton, silk or linen rather than artificial fabrics made of polyester or rayon. And if you're just hanging out at home, wear just underwear (or even less).

Take a quick, cold shower before going to bed (especially with skin-cooling minty soap). Keep a water spritzer by the bed to spray down in the middle of the night.

Move down to the basement where it's cooler to sleep. Or try sleeping on a screened porch.

Buy a backyard inflatable pool to soak in (it's a cool place for your dog.)