Summer is officially here, and the heat has arrived right along with it. The Farmer's Almanac is predicting that the summer of 2012 will bring record high temperatures across the country, so it's essential that we all do what we can to stay cool in order to ward off heat-related illnesses. Following are a handful of ways that you can stay cool this summer:

1. Get your calendar out and make a note to change your air conditioner filters once a month. Not only will this help make your unit more energy efficient—it will increase its productivity and keep your house cooler.

2. Feel yourself getting hot? Go inside and run some cold water on the insides of your wrists. Go ahead and splash some of your neck, too. If you're headed back outside, bring a cold washcloth with you that you can rub on your forehead periodically.

3. Set up an appointment to get your roof and gutters inspected. If there are any issues, get them repaired so that you can be sure that air conditioning isn't leaking out, causing your home to heat up and your electric bill to go sky-high.

4. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times. Staying hydrated is the number one thing you can do to help avoid heat-related illnesses. Do your best to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water each and every day. Do you lead an active lifestyle? Drink more than those eight glasses so that you can ensure that you're staying hydrated and replenishing the fluids you're losing through sweat throughout the day.

5. Don't have ceiling fans? Install them and run them when you're in that particular room. Fans are great for keeping the air moving and keeping you cool while you're inside. Also, not all fans are super expensive, so you can buy several for a few rooms without totally breaking the bank.

6. If you have dishes that need to be washed or clothes that need to be laundered, be sure to run your dishwasher and clothes dryer at night in order to avoid producing even more heat in your home during the hottest hours of the day.

7. Set up a floor fan behind a bowl of cold ice water. The fan will blow the cool air radiating from the bowl on you, keeping you cool so that you don't have to crank your air conditioner up higher than necessary.

8. Dress appropriately. Wear loose, light-colored clothing so that you can stay as cool as possible. Light colors reflect sunrays, while dark colors absorb them and make you even warmer. Also try to wear clothes made out of light fabric such as cotton or linen.

9. Use your oven sparingly. Ovens add a significant amount of heat to your home. It's best to use your grill or microwave when cooking in the summer in order to keep your home as cool as possible.

These are just nine ways that you can help to stay cool during the hot summer months. What tricks do you use to ward off the heat?