Safety and Training

30 Days of Preparing for Spring Storms and the Stinging Heat of Summer Day 21: Keep Your Cool—When it Heats Up So Does Your Temper

Picture shows a woman with her fist raised and a very angry look on her face.

The terms hot-headed and blood-boiling may be more literal than you think. Numerous studies have shown that higher temperatures negatively affect our mood. Heat can make us irritable, impatient, physically uncomfortable, aggressive and even violent. In fact, violent assault numbers—intent to do physical harm against another person—rise during the hotter months. The hotter it gets, the more aggressive we feel.

Picture shows a woman with her fist raised and a very angry look on her face.
Heat can make us irritable, impatient, physically uncomfortable, aggressive and even violent.

I live in Fort Worth, Texas, and one of the many cool things we have going on here is a concert series called Friday on the Green, a free monthly event from April to October in a local, open green space. My friends and I regularly attend. In theory, Friday on the Green is a great time. It is extremely kid and pet friendly; there are many yummy local food trucks and plenty of cold beer. While we let the kids run around, the adults sit around and catch up, enjoying a few cold ones. However, my friends do not start attending Friday on the Green until July when summer is in full swing. The average daily temperature in Fort Worth in July is 96 degrees. It is hot, and it is even hotter after working five days a week, running home to take care of the dog and kids, packing up everything for a night out on the green—diaper bags, strollers, blankets, folding chairs, coolers, and such—that once you get parked, unpacked and set up, you are sweating bullets.

My mood always deteriorates soon after my arrival, and I find myself complaining. However, afterleaving the concert and getting back in my air-conditioned car, I always calm down.

There are many theories about why heat makes us angry. Heat makes it harder to thermoregulate, our body’s ability to regulate its temperature. That, in turn, stimulates the hypothalamus, where thermoregulation and response to external stimuli occur. During extreme heat, the hypothalamus may get confused, causing people to overreact. Irritability caused by sleep deprivation is another theory. It is hard to sleep well when it is too hot. In addition, dehydration may cause anger.

Others have said that our aggression rises during the summer because we tend to be around more people.

Either way, tempers flair when the heat rises. As responsible gun owners and carriers, it is imperative we stay cool, calm and collected. At all costs, avoid situations that anger you, such as road rage, arguments, aggression and physical fights. You should never let any potentially dangerous situation escalate, and you should never be the aggressor.

Now that you know you are more susceptible to anger and aggression when it is hot, I hope you will be more aware of your behavior. When you find yourself getting heated, slow down and take regulated, deep breaths. Remove yourself from the situation, and do not let things escalate.

Other Ways to Beat the Heat

  • Stay inside during the hottest part of the day.
  • Restrict intensive physical activities outside.
  • Take leisurely walks, go to the park, or do yard work in the early morning or after sunset when it cools down.
  • Swim in a cool pool or lake.
  • Go somewhere air conditioned. If you are feeling awful, go see a comedy at the movie theater.
  • Eat ice cream or your favorite childhood Popsicle.
  • Stay hydrated.

How do you stay cool, calm and collected? Tell us about it in the comments section.

[suzanne]

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