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Author Topic: Handling Heat  (Read 5245 times)


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Handling Heat
« on: November 02, 2013, 05:55:50 PM »
The other thing I fear is how I will handle the heat if we are posted in a country where the summers are really hot.  I have heard that in some places the temperature routinely goes over 100 F, without air conditioning.  Current or returned Volunteers... how was that for you guys?  Are there strategies for dealing with it?  Do you acclimate.. am I worried for nothing?

Offline sjbirkhead

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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2013, 12:28:25 PM »
The heat is difficult to deal with.  Hopefully, wherever you are and it is hot you will have electricity.  Most of us did in Botswana.  Save enough money so you can be sure to have enough to buy as many fans as you will need.  Probably two.  Buy a good hat with a wide brim, plan to wear sunglasses and bring a sturdy umbrella or buy one when you get to your site. 

You will get acclimated to the heat somewhat.  If at all possible, plan your walking around the village or other activities in the morning.  If you have a flexible schedule, then plan to work at your house in the afternoon when it is the hottest.  You could also bring some screening and duck tape with you in case your house does not have screens.  Keeping the air flowing was key for me.  I was lucky enough to have screens but I did have to replace the screens on both my doors.  I was able to find screening at the local hardware store in my shopping village.  Duck tape was harder to find.

I hope this is helpful.

Offline Amelia.Plant

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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2013, 12:18:34 AM »
It takes some getting used to - but the key is, you WILL get used to it.  All of the strategies that the last poster wrote are spot-on.
RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013

Offline chebeler

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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2013, 10:38:29 PM »
Take some hot weather clothes to wear just in your house - skimpy tank tops (if you are female), shorts. I found that I did acclimate somewhat to the heat. My family sent me a couple of spray bottles for water, and I just spritzed myself. That combined with a fan or two and I was OK. Writing home about the heat (I remember that the shampoo was warm in my hand when I took a bath) makes it a bit of a sport as well.

Offline shawn

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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2013, 08:21:08 AM »
Regardless of where you end up serving, rest assured that the med team Stateside will assess whether they think you can medically handle it, and the Doctors and Safety/Security teams will have sessions during PST on how to handle things like this.

I don't serve in a country where it gets 100+ (Rwanda is rather temperate), but it does get up there during the day and we did have medical sessions on handling it. If you're really concerned medically, talk to you doctor about your specific health and additional ways to mitigate the heat.
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council


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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2013, 09:20:05 AM »
I have a fan that was absolutely necessary to sleep with the first few months. Then I had a month without power and had to find other ways of dealing with the heat. Especially in the middle of the day. I took many many showers, like 6-7 a day, to keep my body wet. And sometimes I sat around with wet towels on me, like a burn victim. You get used to it a bit. The heat doesn't feel AS bad as before, but also I just am used to being totally covered in sweat.

Offline AntKristi

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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2013, 08:46:00 PM »
I served in sub-Saharan Africa in a village with no electricity or running water and whenever people ask me what the most difficult part of my service was, I usually say the heat.  It's difficult to describe or make people understand the level of heat we are talking about here.  It was routinely over 110, often up into the 120s. And no air conditioning to escape into. Yes you will acclimate somewhat, but probably never completely. It's just part of immersing into that geoculture. Strategies for surviving it: never ever go out into the sun between hours of about 11:00-3:00; always seek out shade whenever outside, it does make a difference; take and carry many bandanas for the sweat, you will need them and be grateful for them; keep water inside in clay pots to keep it a little cooler both for drinking and bathing; take or make stiff handheld fans, you will wear them out; forget sunscreen, you usually will just sweat it off as soon as you put it on - instead, just avoid being out in the sun whenever possible; I slept outside in my courtyard during the hottest months, under a twin-mattress sized mosquito pop up netting/tent, and it did help, but must gauge security of doing this where you are. It's do-able but go into it with open eyes in terms of what you'll be facing...
RPCV Burkina Faso (Africa) 1999-2001
Community Health Development

Offline Branden Ryan

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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2013, 05:36:03 AM »
I'm fortunate to have electricity here in Tanzania, though it is somewhat spotty. The previous PCV left a fan, so it is awesome to have it pointed at me at night while I'm in bed. I'm in the South, which is the hottest part of Tanzania, and it is regularly over 100+. I do agree though that, you will get used to it somewhat, but to be blunt, it will always suck for your 27 months of service. Definitely bring bandanas and loose clothing, especially some short gym shorts and a tank or two for the house. Some people soak kanga cloth in water and, in the afternoon, just lie on the floor in their wet kangas, naked, enjoying the African heat.

If you get placed somewhere hot, I think the best advice is just to get yourself mentally prepared for those nights where you'll be lying in a bit of your own sweat, wondering why it is so hot at night and if you'll be able to sleep. And then, take comfort in knowing that hundreds of other PCVs are doing the same thing, and it won't be so difficult.
Branden Ryan
PCV, Tanzania, 2013-2015


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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2013, 09:22:48 AM »
Niger is one of the hottest countries in the world, with much of it being the Sahara Desert. Routinely it would get above 110 (I think 128 was the hottest I saw). Definitely limit activities during the hot hours - I encountered heat exhaustion a couple times because I did not heed this. Drink TONS of water - I think 8-9 Nalgene bottles/day was my norm. At night, soak a cloth in water and lay it over you for evaporative cooling. I slept outside most of my 27 months under a mosquito net, with the thinnest mattress I could get away with and still be comfortable. (Thick mattresses absorb your heat and suck in hot weather). Douse yourself in water if you overheat. Get people to send you flavoring for your water so you'll be inclined to drink it more. You will acclimate though - on my flight home, I had to have the flight attendants bring me like 3 blankets because I was sooooo cold in electricity. Anything under 85 degrees became cool to me, and if it was under 70, I felt cold. :) 

Offline PeaceCorps1

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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2014, 11:44:49 PM »
Handling heat/cold is relative. It is the cold that I hated.
"If it were not for the reporters, I'd tell you the truth"', President Chester A. Arthur

Offline wsalazar

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Re: Handling Heat
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2015, 07:26:21 PM »
Good to be concerned and to be prepared...the info provided is good. You will have to assess your past living (climate) history - as well as your sense of adventure...if the people you will be working with are/have survived the heat - you will quickly learn that you can, too. Interestly you will find yourself consuming a lot of water...if that can be a hint