“Isn’t it very warm in Cairns, Australia now? I heard it’s warmer on that side.”
I get this a lot when I tell people about my upcoming volunteer trip. However, I’m visiting when it’s almost winter, so it’s “only” going to be 20-30 Celsius. The temperature on my last project, in Namibia, was much higher, averaging between 35 and 45 Celsius, but going on 50 on the warmest days. How do you survive this? Work in it? Well, I don’t know about you, but here’s how I did it:
1. Keep hydrated. Keep
one two bottles of water with you at all times when you don’t have a place to refill nearby. Consider using thermoses instead of the regular plastic ones, as they can keep your water cool. In addition remember to drink before you’re thirsty, you need more water in a hot enviornment – drink regularly.
2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. They have diuretic effect which increases water loss and contributes to dehydration. Take a bath instead.
3. Do like the locals and stay inside (or at least in the shade) when the sun is the strongest: 12 pm – 3 pm. Go out early or late. Work smarter instead of harder.
4. Food = Energy. Eat fresh fruit and nuts to help replenish the electrolytes (i.e., “salts” such as sodium, chloride, potassium). lost through sweat. Try to keep your meals light and balanced, if they are large they take more work to digest which will increase your temperature.
5. Cover up. Use sunblock on all exposed skin, and don’t give in to the temptation to wear as little as possible. When the temperature is high and humidity is low, sweating may not be noticeable because it evaporates quickly. Therefore remain clothed to avoid direct sun on your skin and to reduce your body’s water loss to evaporation. Lightweight and lightly colored clothes of natural fabrics such as linen, cotton, and hemp are good choices to keep comfortable.
6. Better safe than sorry. Take a couple of minutes to look up the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. No one ever plans for something to go wrong, but often it does anyway, so plan ahead. If it doesn’t help you, then it just might help someone else.
Good luck everyone, and stay safe in the summer heat!