How to Stay Cool in the Hottest Places on Earth
Last month saw record-breaking heat in big parts of the southwestern U.S., with temperatures so high in Arizona that planes couldn’t take off.
The weather was so hot that even seasoned experts on the heat — people who live in hot parts of the country who are used to scorching sun — were uncomfortable.
But those with heavy heat experience also have tips for staying as cool as possible. Look to these pro tips during the next heat wave, or when traveling to hot places during the summer.
Keep the car cool (as possible).
Karen Wintemute recently moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, and has already picked up some tips for keeping herself and her two young sons cool.
She suggests getting a car you can start remotely.
“The cars heat up so fast and this is a life saver to get the car starting to cool off before loading up the family,” she said.
She also stocks up on sunscreen and reusable water bottles, especially ones that easily fit in the cup holders and purses “because you are always trying to keep everyone hydrated.”
Another tip is that Wintemute keeps a cooler in the car at all times: “Mainly to put items from the grocery store in on your way home or if you need to stop a few places,” she said. “Any outdoor activities too you will want some nice cold beverages and snacks. A small soft cooler for Disney World, too.”
Carry a towel for your neck.
“If you are going to exercise outside it helps to keep your body temperature down if kept wet,” she said.
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Tour guides with G Adventures, a global adventure travel company, regularly lead small group trips to the dry heat of Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Southern California, and they have some unusual suggestions for how to stay cool.
“Peppermint oil on wet bandanas on the back of your neck are a great trick to beat the heat,” said Shelby Schmitz, a tour guide.
Cool down, or heat up, with water.
Another guide, Justine Patino, recommends eating watermelon and cucumbers, while James Lange suggests “filling up squirt guns with ice-cold water and spraying friends — if they want it.”
Ross Belfer used to live in the New Jersey area, but then moved to Tel Aviv six years ago. He’s found ways to adjust to the sweltering Middle Eastern climate, which is hot all year and worse in the summer.
He suggests you “take a hot shower in the morning, which adjusts your blood temperature and allows the heat to not have such an effect on your body in the morning.”
Belfer also often brings an extra shirt when he has business meetings and takes public transportation so he can stay inside during the hottest parts of the day.
Stay out of the sun.
Dan Ferrante lives in one of the hottest parts of the United States: Palm Springs, California. He’s the managing director of the Ingleside Inn there and has a lot of experience on how to beat the heat.
He suggests getting cultured during the day.
“During peak heat hours, visit air-conditioned museums and attractions such as the Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center and Palm Springs Air Museum,” he said. “Or enjoy a day trip up Highway 74, also known as the ‘Palm to Pines’ Highway. The 130-mile scenic route winds through the desert backcountry connecting the towns of Idyllwild, Julian and Temecula, and back east to Palm Springs.”
Ferrante also suggests getting wet in a pool or hiking the Taquitz Canyon Trail, a two-mile trail “with a spectacular 60-foot waterfall.”
“Start early,” he said.
Another Palm Springs resident, Christine Delgado, the director of sales and marketing at The Kimpton The Rowan Palm Springs Hotel, has a novel suggestion.
“Hang out in a light-colored room,” she said. “Just as light-colored clothing reflects the sun, light walls absorb less heat.”
Elizabeth Avery, the founder of travel company Solo Trekker 4 U, has spent a lot of time in sub-Sahara Africa.
“In the Okavango Delta at about 120 degrees with no air conditioning I was given a great tip: put a damp washcloth at your waist, which is easy to hide under a belt,” she said. “That really cools you down. For a higher tech approach, take a small battery operated handheld fan. I used one in India in the monsoons. They are also very popular in Asia.”
Sarah Nelson Wandrey is a travel agent in Mesa, Arizona, and has advice for surviving daytime errands.
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“In Arizona, we don’t have a lot of trees for shade, and almost no underground parking, so you’ll see people parking at the back of the parking lot with no shade except a single line from a light pole because that might help keep the cool down,” she said. “It’s important to keep from burning alive, so keeping your shifter and steering wheel covered with a towel while you run into a store will save you burns when you get back into your car.”
She also keeps a fan in the office to turn on her legs and treats all her clients to a water, soda, or beer to keep cool.
All of these hot weather experts also emphasized important safety tips, including drinking enough water, eating snacks, wearing sunscreen, and avoiding being outside during the hottest times of the day.