The BIG guide to keeping cool in Spain
Keeping cool in Spain is vital in order to avoid sunstroke, heatstroke, or even just to make you a little more comfortable. Let’s look at some tips to help stop you from overheating.
Of course some of you will have aircon, but many other either don’t want those bills… or can’t use aircon in case it exacerbates such health conditions as asthma.
So what can you do to keep cool in Spain?
1. Use a fan
There is a lot of talk at the moment which says not to use fans. Experts advise against the use of them in some cases and actually it makes sense. Unless you have a cleaner in your house 24 hours a day, dust will gather – and those fans just push it all around. This can be bad for people with breathing difficulties, but it can also give you dry eyes and skin.
Saying that – you know your own health. So perhaps don’t use one while you sleep if prone to breathing difficulties… or just consider one for on your desk while working, or in your kitchen while cooking.
We’ve just bought a small desktop fan that is powered by a USB port on the computer – it’s cheap, quiet, and works a treat! Click the Amazon links to nab one yourself.
Then you have those Spanish fans that the ladies use. When we first moved to mainland Spain, I saw various British and Irish ladies using fans and to be honest, I thought they were getting themselves a little “bang at it”. Fast forward a fortnight or so and I too had bought one. It turned out that we’d moved to an area with several pig farms around – and the flies were awful! A handheld fan not only helps with the heat, but it also helps keep those pesky flies away from your face. I now have several Spanish fans, dotted around the house and in handbags in easy-to-reach places. I ate my words and can now humbly admit that they were not so “bang at it” after all!
2. Get wet!
Remember your childhood summer holidays? What was one of the most popular activities? Yep – splashing around in water. be that a hosepipe (check locally for any bans), a paddling pool, or a trip to your nearest pond, lake, beach or river.
Become those happy kiddywinks again and go for a paddle or a full dip.
3. Get naked!
Obviously we are not advising you to strut around your town as bare as the day you were born (unless you live in a dedicated naturist area) – but inside your own home where nobody can see you is a different matter. Just remember to close your curtains if passers-by can see in.
If you are not into complete nudity, then reduce your clothing as much as you can. Wear loose-fitting, cotton layers – this will certainly help much more than sweating through your jeans and nylon tops.
4. Drink lots of water!
This is a no-brainer really. I believe that most of us fails to drink enough water during the day. We often wait until we’re thirsty before grabbing a glass or bottle.
If you are one of those people who finds water boring, try dropping some summer fruits in or some sliced citrus fruits for a gentle tang.
Try not to drink TOO much though. Between 1 and 2 litres per day (adults) will see you hydrated but without drowning out any useful nutrients. Also – ensure that the water is cool but not ice cold as the latter can cause tummy upsets and, in some cases, send your body into shock if overdone.
Remember that alcohol can have the opposite effect – you’ll dehydrate much faster – so maybe forego those large beers in frosted glasses. Oh okay – maybe just one then.
5. Embrace summer foods!
Let’s face it – many of us lose our appetites when those temperatures soar. So why not look at what the Spanish have been eating for centuries to ensure they are still getting their nutrients, without bloating themselves with huge meals.
The Spanish have some amazing dishes that are perfect for summer – salads, light bites, chilled soups – the list is endless. Here are recipe links to just a few personal favourites:
- Porra (a cousin of gazpacho)
- Tortilla bites with rocket salad
- Tinto verano (summer wine)
- Ensaladilla Rusa
- Mojete Murciano
6. Close the curtains and shutters
Wandering around any Spanish town during the hotter months will show that the Spanish already know this and do it without thinking. You’ll see closed shutters everywhere. This keeps the house cooler during the day and you can air it out in the evenings for some gentle breezes.
7. Don’t overdo it
If you don’t HAVE to do anything manual during the hottest part of the day, then don’t! Of course some of you have jobs that demand you work outdoors in the heat. However, if you are able to work in the shade, or adjust your hours – that would really help. Remember to wear a hat with a brim to keep that sun from scorching your bonce. Oh and never EVER forget the suncream!!
Do those windows really have to be cleaned at 2pm? No – probably not. Does that garden really need you to be on your hands and knees pulling out weeds during the hottest part of the day? No – probably not. Leave it until later.
Employers: Ensure that you provide fresh clean water for your staff, and don’t force them to work outside in the hot sun if there is any way around it. Keep an eye on everyone, and encourage your staff to check on each other too.
Employees: Help your boss by monitoring yourself and your colleagues and advising if someone doesn’t seem to be coping well. Health and safety is paramount – and your employer is legally bound to provide you with a safe environment.
8. Don’t go out unless you have to
You will notice that (outside of the main towns and cities) that much of Spain almost shuts down during the hottest part of the day. We avoid going out into the scorching heat unless we really have to. If you’ve got those shutters closed and are able to chill out indoors – then do! This brings us onto… … …
9. Grab a siesta
Yeah yeah – a large chunk of the media will tell you that the siesta is dead and gone, but we disagree! The larger towns and the cities have perhaps left it behind in favour of availability during international business hours – but elsewhere in Spain we are all at it!
Let’s face it – when you’re all hot and bothered – why not just grab a short nap to pass the time. You’ll have more energy in the evening when the temperatures drop somewhat, and while you’re asleep you’re not worrying about the heat anyway. Poke a foot or two outside of the covering and you’ll benefit even more. For an extra cool tip – pop your top sheet into a bag in the freezer before laying it on your bed. That instant coolness will help you drop off to sleep faster than if you are huffing and puffing in a stuffy room.
But don’t take our word for it when it comes to siestas – look at the animal kingdom. What do they do when the sun is at its hottest? They grab a nap of course! Currently our three dogs have found the coolest spots in the house (one under the kitchen table and two under the bed) and are snoring away contentedly. I’d join them if I could fit!
10. Get a mister
Take a trip down to your local hardware store and get yourself a spray bottle mister. You know – those things you spray your flowers with.
Give yourself a little spritz now and again for an instant hot of “cool”. I like to spray my neck, face and pulse points for optimum benefit. You may also wish to give your bed a LIGHT spray before throwing yourself upon it too… or even just that top sheet.
11. Don’t forget your pets!
Please ensure that your pets have plenty of fresh, clean, cool water at their disposal at all times. Don’t leave them in a hot garage or outside without shade. Would you like to be stuck somewhere scorching in a fur coat? No of course not – so don’t do it to your pets.
Watch those pavements! If you can’t stand barefoot on a pavement – then neither can your pet. If you have to walk your dog (some owners choose not to during the hottest months) then stick to early mornings and after dusk when the temperatures have come down a bit. Ensure that you always carry extra water with you.
This brings us onto “dogs in cars”. We shouldn’t have to tell people not to leave their pets in cars during the heat, or to keep their paws off those scorching pavements – yet people still seem to do it.
If we see you have left your dog in your car during hot summer days and the dog looks at all overheated in the slightest – we WILL do whatever it takes to rescue your pet. That may mean calling the police – but in some cases it may mean that we take a rock to your car window. We will photograph (or video) your struggling pet, your car, and then YOU upon your return and throw it all over the internet. If you don’t like that – then we’ll see you in court quite happily!
12. Look out for your neighbours
Do keep an eye on your neighbours, friends and family – and check they are coping okay… especially if they live alone or are vulnerable in any way. Some of them may be housebound and need someone to pick up some water for them… or to help with opening and closing shutters. Don’t assume someone else is doing it – it takes just a few minutes to check that someone is okay – don’t leave it to chance.
Over to you: How do you keep cool in Spain?
What tips do you have for keeping cool? Which are your favourite tips from our list above? Leave us a comment below, or on whatever Social Media website you’ve seen this article shared too – we’d love to hear from you!
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Elle, along with Alan, is the owner of Spain Buddy and the busy web design business – Spain Web Design by Gandy-Draper.
Born a “Norverner”, she then spent most of her life “Dann Saff” before moving to Spain in 2006. Elle’s loves are Alan, the internet, dogs, good food, and dry white wine – although not necessarily in that order.