Gadgets to Help You Keep Cool, Literally

It's summer, and across much of the country it's been hotter than hot. While lying down might not be such a bad idea, you really don't have to take the heat lying down.

It's actually quite easy to cool off — and keep your stuff cool, too — according to the inventors and distributors of the crystal-cooled hat, the skin-saving car seat cooler, and the office hand cooler.

Chill-out gadgets, which offer relief in innovative ways, are becoming hot sellers as heat waves sweep the country.

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As a mother in sizzling Phoenix, Deb Lowe got tired of the fast-melting ice bags she used to keep her car cool during the summer months.

So she decided to make her own liquid-filled, insulated car-seat cooler, which led her to start her own company, BabyBeeCool.

"I was a wound-care specialist. I know how quick your skin can burn," said Lowe, who worked as a nurse before her business took off. "A lot of parents think their kid is crying when they put them in their seat because they're hot, but then they get home and find a third-degree burn on their child's legs."

The temperature in the cabin of a car sitting in the sunlight can get up to 185 degrees, Lowe said, and the metal can get even hotter.

Turn on the air conditioner, and the interior will cool fairly quickly. But the seat itself can give you a nasty burn.

So Lowe invented the Car Seat Cooler Pad, which sells for $49.99 and is designed to stay cool for 10 hours.

Lowe started sewing the pads by hand in 2002 for her 1-year-old daughter, but even adults use the pads now for their seats or pet crates.

It's bad enough to be dripping while driving, but waking up in a sweat is no way to begin your day.

If that box fan blowing at your face while you sleep doesn't help, try a fan built directly into your bed.

The Bedfan, which ranges in price from $70 to $100, is designed to remove heat trapped in your sheets as you sleep and move up to 100 cubic feet of air per minute.

You attach a "Breeze Bar" to the end of your bed, where it hovers half an inch above the mattress, then control the strength of the fan with a little dial.

If you work at a desk, there are some gadgets designed to keep you cool whether your boss decides to crank the AC or not.

There are cool gizmos that plug right into your computer, like the Thermaltake DeskCool, which debuted at the Computex 2007 exhibition in Taiwan and is set to come out in stores later this year. It's a little blower that cools your hands. So if your palms are sweaty, don't blame the heat.

To keep you hydrated in the office, ThinkGeek sells a beverage cooler for about $25 that's a little less complicated than a minifridge — you plug the unit into your computer's USB port, set the drink on top of the pad, press a button and your drink is cooled to your liking.

"It was designed in China as an electric way of keeping computers cool, but we found the product and turned it into a beverage cooler," said John Fraser, a merchant buyer for ThinkGeek. "On a two-hour laptop battery life, it might use up to 10 minutes of power."

As temperatures soared last week, ThinkGeek sold out its stock of the USB Beverage Chiller by Monday morning.

And since winter always comes too soon, the company will release a new version this week that has a heating as well as a cooling option.

What about keeping your nearest and dearest cool, too?

You also can protect your gaming system with products like the $20 Intercooler EX for Microsoft's Xbox 360.

All you do is snap the cooler on and it uses three fans to generate either an automatic or a manually operated "cooler environment" around the game console.

If you're heading outdoors, perhaps the Cool Band Cap, sold by First Street for about $30, is for you.

Made with a thin mesh material to keep your head cool, this device uses non-toxic polymer cooling crystals in the forehead section that change into a gel after you put them in water for five minutes.

The manufacturers say the hat will keep you cool for several hours, after which the process can be repeated for the next golf or hiking trip.

Some like to keep it simple by just getting a fan, but even the fan industry is offering innovative technology.

The Ventilux, made by German designers Zetsche & Koenigbauer, looks like a big foam plus sign, but it creates a silent breeze for $399. Buyers can choose their color — fluorescent orange, lime green, pink, silver and anthracite — and their speed — atmosphere, breeze and storm.

Pretty cool, eh? Bring on the heat.