Many people would describe their perfect vacation with three words: summer, sun and beach. The flip side of this paradise coin is that extreme heat can ruin everything. The consequences of overheating can be fatal as the summer heat is equally ruthless to people and animals. How can you survive working or training in the sun? Let’s find everything out about cooling gadgets and learn from hundreds of years of experience of desert inhabitants, i.e. Bedouins. We’ve compiled 65 facts and pieces of expert advice to help you beat the heat.
What You Will Learn from This Guide:
- Why is heat dangerous and how do scientists recommend keeping cool?
- How to survive in the desert from a scientific point of view or using the Bedouins’ life hacks
- How to beat the heat on the beach
- How to keep cool while camping
- How to stay cool in hot weather while working outside
- Athletes’ strategy in summer
- How to keep your kids cool
- How to keep your room cool
- How to keep your dog cool
1. Like smart devices, our bodies are configured in certain ways that must not be changed, or else a breakdown is inevitable. Summer heat can cause our body’s temperature to rise from its normal level of 97.88 °F to over 103°F, causing a heat stroke, i.e. global overheating when our bodies signal that cooling is necessary. Such signals are extremely unpleasant and dangerous. They include dizziness, fatigue, increased heart rate and stomach ache. This set of symptoms requires immediate professional treatment as the consequences of a heat stroke may be fatal.
2. Sweating is our body’s means of regulating our temperature. Although our society is embarrassed about wet sweaty stains on clothes, in fact sweating is a free personal cooling system that requires water. Lack of liquid causes a decrease in sweating. Dr. Jamison Starbuck recommends: “Drink lots of water. That means at least half your body weight in ounces of water, and more whenever you can.”
3. The Department for Health and Ageing, Government of South Australia offers an extraordinary dehydration test. Page 7 of the extreme heat guide explains that hydration affects urine color. if your urine is dark yellow, “Drink a large bottle of water straight away!”
4. When sweating, we lose not only water, but also mineral salts. Eating something salty (e.g. ham, cheese or chips) is advisable for regaining natural balance. You should consume more natural minerals that can be found in tomatoes, celery or vegetable juices.
5. Cover your head. It’s no wonder that a straw hat is an integral part of any summer look. Any other head covering will do as long as you remember to wear it. Wear glasses and use a sunscreen (with SPF 15 or higher). Wear loose clothes and open shoes. A proper outfit will help you avoid heat exhaustion, which is a lighter form of a heat stroke. You won’t stop sweating, but will feel nauseous, fatigued and stomach ache. To relieve these symptoms, rest somewhere cool.
6. Summer heat provokes exacerbation of chronic diseases, e.g. asthma attacks as they are connected with the weather conditions. Heat intolerance is typical of endocrine diseases, menopause and anxiety disorder. Seniors, infants and pregnant women are at risk. If it’s hot like in a desert outside, make your home an oasis. Turn on a fan or AC, store some produce and don’t leave your home until the heatwave passes. As an alternative, you can spend time in a public place as they are usually well-cooled. Plan stops in your city route and always have a water bottle handy.
7. Dr. Jamison Starbuck explains that if you feel unwell outside, find a shady place, sit there with your knees bent and head between your knees. If you have any water, pour some on your temple and neck. Drink water in small sips until you feel better.
8. Consider the peculiarities of the climate you live in. The risk of a heat stroke is higher in regions with high temperature and humidity, i.e. tropics and subtropics. In a desert, where humidity only reaches 20%, you are more likely to face respiratory problems. This information will help you find a suitable cooling accessory.
9. If you have arrived in a hot climate from northern latitudes, pay attention to the locals’ daily routine and try to follow it. What do the locals wear? Do they have a siesta? Perhaps, the best thing you can do from 1 pm to 4 pm is have a nap. Those who live in summer all year round know for sure how to keep cool in summer!
10. It’s interesting to note that our body can gradually adjust to heat. After a fortnight, you will sweat less, and your heart rate will decrease because of acclimatisation. Let your body get used to the heat.
11. You will take the heat easier if you cool your neck and shoulders (for instance, if you hang a wet towel on the neck). Why? The carotid artery which carries oxygen to your brain passes there. Kangaroos are known to lick their shoulders so that the evaporation cools their capillaries leading to the brain. Experiments show that cooling the neck improves stamina, so cooling vests and bands are a real way to stay cool in the heat.
12. Water is the key to survival in a desert. Sweating makes you lose up to two liters of water per hour, but you can drink over fifteen liters! That is why you should either have sufficient stock of water or constantly move towards a water source. Survival shows, such as Discovery’s Ultimate Survival, recommend finding any existing or even former water sources around. For instance, the dried-up riverbeds grow moist grass. In case of an emergency, grass can really save you from dehydration.
13. The key recommendation that can be found in blogs, scientific articles and hearsay is to protect your head and face against direct sun rays. The brain has always been the most vulnerable to heat, and it is the first organ to shut off when overheated. A light wide hat is the best option, but if it’s not available, the experts recommend coiling any cloth around your head.
14. Watch your diet. Seeker.com warns that you should regulate te your water consumption as drinking the entire thing at once can be fatal. Also, reduce the amount of food you are eating. The more you eat (especially sweet and salty food), the thirstier you are.
15. Don’t rush! Move slowly, as such an energy-saving mode helps you retain water. However, this is irrelevant early in the morning when the temperature is 10-20 degrees lower than during the day. Do most tasks in the morning.
16. Breathe properly at all times, especially in the morning. Don’t breathe through your mouth as the mucous membrane will dry, and your thirst will become unbearable.
17. It is well-known that light colors are best to wear in heat. However, some people inhabiting deserts wear black only. The Guardian has recently mentioned this phenomenon. Even though black literally attracts heat, things are more complicated when it comes to traditional Bedouin attire. In fact, these people wear very expensive outfits entirely made of black goat fur. This natural fabric ensures perfect thermoregulation, and the pores provide thorough ventilation. At night, when the temperature drops drastically, fur will warm you up. As you can see, Bedouins’ attire is very smart!
18. Back in 1980, Nature magazine conducted an experiment when a brave volunteer spent thirty minutes in white and black clothes under the sun in the Negev desert. Many were surprised by the outcome as thermal protection of the two outfits turned out to be identical. By the way, Joann Fletcher, a famous Egyptologist, has always travelled to the pyramids wearing black only and hiding under a black parasol. What conclusion can be made? Fabric is far more important than the color of your clothes. Natural fabric is better than synthetic fabric, and loose clothes are superior to tight ones.
19. What about keffiyeh? Speaking of Bedouins, we should definitely mention their invention. Keffiyeh can look like an uncomfortable cloth wrapped around their head, but in fact it is a very smart head covering. A woolen cord tied around your head can be found inside. Since the fabric flows rather than swifts around the head, a cooling effect is created. Winter keffiyehs are made of wool while summer ones are made of cotton.
20. Platinum-heritage.com, is a company specializing in safaris, and it describes a yet another strange Bedouin ritual. It turns out that in ancient times, they would line their eyes with henna, not as make-up but to reflect sun’s rays. This theory has not been scientifically proven, and it is unlikely that anything will surpass the effectiveness of sunglasses.
21. It’s time for paradoxes. Many southern people are known to drink hot tea in the hottest days. The researchers are convinced that there is logic behind this. This hot drink can indeed cool, as the Smithsonian magazine claims. “If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that’s produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate,” - claims Ollie Jay, a researcher at University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics. To put it simply, hot tea intensifies sweating which naturally leads to cooling. This recommendation is more suitable for living in hot climates rather than for emergencies. For instance, hot tea will be harmful when exercising, so be careful!
22. Let’s examine those who have seamlessly adapted to extreme desert conditions. Animals and insects have lived there for centuries and know how to beat the heat. How? The Australian Spinifex hopping mouse, for instance, feeds on hard plants, roots and seeds. It can find liquid even in such a meal. The carnivorous stripe faced Dunnart receives water from eating desert insects. The Stenocara beetle settles in the valleys and cools and drinks from the night fog. The mascot of the desert, a camel, can lose up to 25% of its weight without any harm. Its thick eyelids and fur protect it from the sun’s rays and sand storms. And, indeed, the fat stored in the camels’ humps is a built-in water sponge. Perhaps, these unique bodies will inspire the scientists’ new inventions. Some ideas can be used now. For instance, fog coolers or portable misting fans can help create artificial fog.
23. Remember that the wind can move dunes or even stones, so you can’t rely on these landmarks. Special tricks are used to navigate. Arabs prefer to travel at night to navigate with the help of stars. In some deserts, the shape of sand-dunes can replace a compass. The Nation lists a number of examples when the journalists managed to determine the direction from which the wind blew simply by looking at the sand-dune tops. However, we do not recommend travelling in the desert without a trained local guide who could find still water sources and won’t let you get lost.
24. You shouldn’t stay in the sun, if the temperature is above 85 °F. Take at least a ten-minute break in the shade every hour. Tan in the morning or in the evening, but never at noon.
25. Use as many cooling accessories as possible. A cooling bandana, a cooling towel, a mini air conditioner, an ice cooler, and a portable fan are all things that will definitely come in handy at the beach. Some personal misting fans resemble water guns and can be fun to use.
26. Naturally, you’d want to relax at the beach, but alcoholic cocktails are inappropriate in the summer heat. Mixing liquor and sugar are a sure way to dehydrate your body.
27. Fruits and soft drinks are great at the beach. While a bottle made of ice is still uncommon, you can buy a thermo-isolating case for bottles and jars. Also, reduce the consumption of fast food as products with calories (even ice cream) prevent your body from cooling.
28. Drink, drink and drink. A hydrating backpack will be handy for campers and tourists in the summer. Its built-in drinking system (made of a reservoir and a pipe) lets you drink on the go, with your hands free. It is more portable and has better thermal protection than a flask. A neoprene case won’t let the water warm up.
29. It makes no sense to be squeamish when you are far away from civilization, especially when it comes to hydration. If you have run out of tap water, use natural water sources. Turbid still water can be cleaned with the help of a DIY filter. Dig a small hole in the sand near the water and filter the water until it becomes clearer. You can also boil it. The scientists have long been working on gadgets which extract water from air, but such devices have not yet reached the mass market.
30. Sun, cut and insect-protecting accessories are a must when outside. They can cool as well! Cooling Bandanas и Scarves, for instance, can cool you for 2-3 hours thanks to its polymers.
31. Tip #11 recommended cooling your neck and shoulders is a must for those engaged in hard physical work. A special cooling vest that is activated when in contact with water can help you stay cool for 3-4 hours. Just wet it and start working.
32. How to stay cool when working in the heat? An ice cube generator will help. Dean Karnazes, an American super marathon runner recommends eating as many ice cubes as possible once the heat becomes unbearable. You can also rub them on your skin. The legendary athlete assures that this method helped him get up off the stretcher and run yet another 38 km to finish. At that time, the temperature had reached 100 °F! By the way, the FlexiFreeze Ice Vest with ice cube compartments is available on Amazon.com.
33. Working in the heat can lead to occupational heat stress. Not only can it cause various illnesses, but also increases occupational injury risk. To prevent the heat stress, employers should follow the recommendations provided by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. According to them, water, special uniform and a break must be provided to the employees. Breaks must be regularly organized in a cool place, and employees should drink a glass of water every 15-20 minutes. An acclimatisation plan should be taken into account when scheduling work.
34. We’ll start with the bad advice. Newsweek recommends the athletes to be extra careful when drinking Gatorade to maintain the water-salt balance. The author doubts their ingredients and believes these are unhealthy. Such drinks are suitable for an indoor work-out, but it is unknown how the chemicals would act in the heat. The journalist assures that tap or mineral water is better as it contains fewer uncertain ingredients. However, Runner`s World argues: “Sports drinks beat water because they contain electrolytes, which increase your water-absorption rate, replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat, and taste good, making it easy to drink more.” All in all, sport drinks won’t do too much harm as long as you use tried brands.
35. Which sports are most popular in the summer? Jogging, soccer, basketball and other street sports. At that time, the weather is nice so everyone leaves the gym. This can be a bad idea in summer heat. To reduce risk, train in the morning or in the evening. As soccer and basketball require constant jerking and unstable load, the trainers unanimously claim that it’s best to train in the shade as long as it is not too stuffy outside. Find a pool or a gym with proper air conditioning.
36. Some athletes perform in the sun more often than others. For instance, tennis players (Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic) face the sun at almost all times. How do they beat the heat? It turns out that pro tennis players use wet towels to cool neck capillaries leading to the brain. We've already covered this product. Simple to use, cooling towels are available for all.
37. Men`s Health reminds all who love working out of the danger of lack of oxygen in summer time. Trainers recommend limiting the number of sets and rounds, especially when it comes to bench press or squats.
38. Frequent but shorter trainings are also effective. Three two-hour weekly workouts can be transformed to five hourly ones.
39. А Men`s Journal cites an expert and advises limiting the workouts in hot and humid climate. Specialists remind us that humid air reduces the effectiveness of sweat glands (which are our built-in AC).
40. Pay attention to sport hydration devices. They are lighter than travel ones and are often sold in cases. Sometimes, a small volume is a disadvantage, as the reservoir would empty too quickly. The scientists have solved this issue. Kristof Retezár has released a bottle that can be mounted on a bike and which generates water from the headwinds. This invention can generate half a liter of water per hour!
41. Jog in green areas rather than on concrete, as the air in parks and gardens is fresher.
42. Wear breathable clothes to avoid overheating. Don’t save money on your sport outfit, as there are lots of useful features. For instance, marathon runners use detachable sleeves to protect from UV.
43. When training, avoid taking dehydrating medicine (such as antidepressants and antihistamines).
44. Dean Karnazes, a marathon runner, recommends spraying water in his work devoted to extreme sports. A portable misting fan or a regular spray will do.
45. Listen to your body. Runner`s World also recommends that runners slow down in accordance with the air temperature fluctuations. Slow 20-30 mps for every 5 °F over 60 °F.
46. Never leave your child in a parked car. Metal is instantly heated, and the child can suffocate.
47. It’s important to critically assess your child’s well-being. Your kid might not even tell you that they are hot and instead complain of stomach ache or be sluggish and indifferent. Dr. Jamison Starbuck explains that these are the symptoms of heat exhaustion, a condition caused by dehydration and long sun exposure.
48. The younger your child is, the less their body is adapted to thermal regulation. Keep your child in a ventilated room when it’s hot but make sure they are not directly exposed to a jet of cold air. Decrease the AC temperature gradually.
49. Control humidity as well as the temperature and use a special device, a hygrometer, for this purpose. Humidity should not drop below 50% for comfortable breathing. Humidifiers or humidifying fans can help you with this.
50. As we’ve already seen, water is your best friend in summer. Bathe your child in cool water and, if possible, do this as often as possible. Even a minute of showering can bring substantial relief. Don’t use a towel to dry afterwards as wet skin will continue cooling the body.
51. Remember that nearly all cooling gadgets offer a child’s version. Your child will more likely use a Disney character or a superhero fan than a regular boring device. That means the kid will always have a personal cooling gadget.
52. It’s difficult to fall asleep, when it’s stuffy, so maintain a comfortable temperature at home no matter how hot it is outside. Use ACs, fans and other gadgets to create a shelter for your family and pets.
53. We’ve already illustrated people who live in hot climate from ancient times. Their experience is also useful for housing arrangements. In Italy, for example, the windows are traditionally draped with wooden shutters. As a result, hot sun rays do not penetrate the room. If you want less hassle, hang thick curtains.
54. Don’t open the windows at night, even if it’s hot at night. Use a draft to keep cool.
55. Put your bed linen in the fridge and make your bed right before going to sleep. You will feel blessed as you fall asleep in a cool bed!
56. Changing the bed sheets on a daily basis is rather tiring. Smart bed gadgets exuding coolness, such as a gel pillow that is not heated by your body, are available on Amazon.
57. Manage your kitchen wisely. While you will need lots of ice, you can stop using the stove and oven so as not to escalate the heat.
59. Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to a heat stroke and can even die of heat. Almost all common breeds are risk: some of them have thick fur (huskies, malamutes and German shepherds), others have a flat face (bulldogs, pugs and spitz). Labrador retrievers and rottweilers are known to have thermoregulation issues. The time they spend outdoors during a heatwave should be minimized. For instance, domestic cats are rarely sick due to heat as they tend to stay at home.
60. An overheated dog sticks out its tongue and breathes through the mouth. This is the only way to cool which is why closed muzzles can’t be used. Your dog might suffocate!
61. Help your dog beat the heat by wetting its fur. Place a water container in the backyard so that the dog can have a cooling swim in an improvised pool.
63. Check the water bowl often for fresh water and put ice there. Make sure the food in the bowl is not spoiled: dogs barely eat in heat.
64. Don’t leave your dog alone in a stuffy, enclosed space. If you don’t have an AC, buy a cooling pad for your dog. Such a cooling pad is filled with a special gel that consumes the heat radiated by your pet’s body. Keep it at home or in the car. This device is also suitable for cats.