Prison Diary: How To Stay Cool

Summer is coming so it's starting to warm up in Texas.

Texas prisons are not air-conditioned, so the cell blocks will soon become ovens. Some buildings are air-conditioned, like the chapel where we have our study, but those spaces are just brief respites from the oppressive heat.

So this week I asked Cody, Diego and Joe about how they stay cool. "What's the Number #1 way to beat the heat during the summer months?" I asked.

Joe said a fan is absolutely essential. The inmates can purchase a fan for $20 from the commissary. Fans may be the most prized possession in the entire prison.

"It's a mental thing," was Diego's response, "You can't let the heat get to you, thinking all the time about how hot you are. That only makes it worse."

Cody had two pieces of advice.

First, he said, you have to shut and black out your windows. It keeps the heat out. Blacking out the windows is against the rules, but most officers let it slide. I asked Cody to estimate and he said about 85% of the cells black out their windows.

Cody's second trick to getting cool was this:

"You strip to your underwear. Then you throw water from the toilet onto the cement floor of the cell. You then get your towel wet. You lay down on the wet cement in your underwear and use the towel to keep yourself wet. Then put your fan so that it can blow over you as you lay there."

I looked at Joe and Diego to confirm that this is the best strategy to staying cool. They nodded yes, that's how you do it.

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