How to keep your head cool in the Spanish heat

Spain is the sunniest place in Europe. Especially the south coast is bathed in sunlight, 300 to 320 days a year. How different from Belgium, where the weather forecast is much like a lottery draw: you can get lucky, but the chances are much higher that the weather will be nil. Then you are better off in Spain. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, the climate on the costas is the best in the world.

You would buy a (second) home in the promised land for less. If you are one of the lucky ones, however, you should also be prepared for the other side of the coin: the intense heat waves that sometimes grip southern Spain. Especially in July and August, Spain sometimes hisses like a lump of butter in red-hot frying pan. How do you best protect yourself from that heat?

Avoid sunstroke

Sunstroke is no laughing matter. During previous heat waves, the Spanish police distributed a set of guidelines for recognizing the earliest symptoms of them. Not so much for the locals. They usually know how to deal with the most oppressive heat (read: snapping an owl, but more on that later). Well for the guiris who, being fond of the sun, do not yet know their own limits.

Those symptoms are headaches, dizziness, nausea, cramps, excess sweating, palpitations and feeling weak. If you suspect you have heat stroke, go to the shade or a cool room, take a cold shower and drink water or lemonade. If someone with a possible sunstroke is unconscious, notify emergency medical services (112 or 061).

Relax between 12 and 4

You are not in Belgium where life is rushed. In Spain, public life falls completely silent in the early afternoon. And especially in the summer, when the heat makes it impossible to do anything between 12 and 4. The warmest times of the day are around 3 o’clock. During a heat wave, by the way, flat rest is an official government directive.

Do as the Spanish do: plan your activities in the morning or after four o’clock. Avoid physical exertion as much as possible. Don’t go jogging, but find a hammock next to the pool or a comfortable lounger in the shade. Relax! Or why did you think the Spanish elevated siesta to an art form? Be careful not to be surprised by the rotating sun when you fall asleep outside.

Stay cool

Take a dip in the pool. Quite a few of the residences in our listing have a swimming pool, common or otherwise. Large air-conditioned shopping centers, such as the one in La Zenia, also make great havens during the hottest hours of the day.

Drink and eat appropriately

Drink more than usual and don’t wait until you are thirsty. The recommended amount is at least two liters per day. Take a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Alcohol and coffee have diuretic effects, and are basically not recommended. Although, of course, it is not a big problem to drink a cerveza or a nice cocktail, as long as you drink enough water in between.

Avoid copious, hot meals in the summer. Think stews, soup or roasted chicken. The human body creates heat to digest it. It is better to opt for fresh, light meals, such as yogurt, salads or the delicious cold gazpacho that the Spaniards love. Or how about seasonal fruit, which by the way is much tastier in Spain than it is here. Certainly fruits that are high in water, such as watermelons and strawberries (as well as tomatoes), will fit nicely into your summer diet.

Protect yourself from sunburn

Who wants to look like an Englishman on vacation in Ibiza performing a typical rendition of a cooked lobster? Burnt skin is not only unpleasant, but also increases the risk of sunburn and skin cancer. Therefore, stay in the shade as much as possible and wear a hat. And smear on that factor 50 sunscreen.

Keep your home cool

Only a third of homes in Spain have air conditioning, although that percentage is higher in the hottest regions of the country. Fortunately, the majority of the villa, houses and apartments offered by Gold Estates do have air conditioning. Those who are less fortunate, or those who prefer not to use their air conditioning too often, can still deal with the heat in their homes by old-fashioned means.

Spaniards leave the curtains and blinds closed on hot days and open the windows. This way they avoid direct sunlight, but can enjoy a breeze. Fans can also circulate the air around the house. On hot days, use stove, oven and other household appliances that give off heat as little as possible. A salad is wiser then anyway, we said.

Avoid travel by car

Long car rides are not pleasant on hot days anyway. Unless you enjoy those shorts sticking to your buttocks. If you do have a long journey ahead of you, take regular breaks, preferably in the shade. Also, make sure you have plenty of water with you.

Never stay too long in a parked car, even if it’s in the shade and an open window provides cooling. In no time, your car can turn into a roasting oven. Under no circumstances leave your dog in a closed car, even if it is only for a short time.

Wear loose, light clothing

Which allows air to circulate around your skin, cooling the body. Your clothes are preferably made of natural fabrics, such as silk, linen or a combination of both. Polyester, nylon, acrylic, lycra are much less suitable. This is because they do not allow the skin to breathe. Choose light colors: white, beige, pastel colors. Black and dark colors absorb heat.

A hat can prevent sunstroke. The wider the edge, the better protected you are. A fan is also an appropriate accessory in Spain, not only to blow cool air on yourself, but also to block the sun. And of course, sunglasses are indispensable – not just in the summer, but all year round.

Provide ideal sleep conditions

Without air conditioning, sweaty conditions are impossible to avoid? Yet not, with these tips you can still preserve your sleep:

  • Before going to bed, stick sheets or pillows in a plastic bag in the freezer for a few minutes. They won’t stay cool all night, but hopefully long enough to fall asleep.
  • Fill a hot water bottle with cold water.
  • If you don’t have a fan, hang a damp sheet in front of the window. Or put a bowl of ice in front of a fan.
  • Wear light pajamas. Or sleep naked. According to a study of American cotton producers, the latter leads to happier relationships. Above all, don’t ask us why!
  • We know it contradicts the previous point, but: sleep alone. If you cuddle up to someone else, your body temperature will skyrocket and your bedding will stick to your body.
  • Take a lukewarm or hot shower. A cold shower before bed may cool you down, but it also reactivates your body. Which makes you feel the heat faster afterwards. Warmer water raises your body temperature, which has a cooling effect.
  • Compresses or washcloths with lukewarm water can also help. Press them on neck, elbows, ankles and the back of the knees for a cooling effect.
  • If necessary, place your mattress on the floor. Hot air rises upward.
  • Sleep outside, if you can. On your balcony, for example.

Get used to it and take care of each other

At first it may be puffing and sweating, but after a few weeks it will be a little better. Be careful though: how your body reacts to heat depends on your age, medical condition and fitness level. Don’t be silly. The elderly, the sick and young children are particularly at risk. Take care of yourself and, if possible, others.



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