Can You Handle the Heat?

Following up on our last blog post about escapist dreams during the long and cold Bavarian winters, our Ambassador in Granada, Molly Sears Piccavey, has now volunteered some very useful advice on dealing with the heat for expats living in Spain, or in any other hot country for that matter…

I have been away from the UK since 1998, and yet for me, one of the challenges of living in Southern Spain is still dealing with the heat during the long summer months.

In Granada where I live, temperatures are extreme. The lowest minimum temperature recorded was in 1987, a freezing -14 º C (equivalent to 7º F ) and the highest maximum on record for Granada was in 1995 a blistering 43 º C, which is around 110ºF. In the city we enjoy the interesting contrast of being able to ski all winter long in the nearby Sierra Nevada and red hot summers where you really have to think about going outside to buy bread!

After several years living here I have prepared this list to offer some tips for coping with heat. If you apply a few of them it should make things so much easier to handle when the mercury rises.


• Stick to natural fibres, wear silk, cotton, linen or a mix of these fibres, avoid polyester and nylon as they don´t allow the skin to breath.

• Always choose pale colours, white, beige or pastels as they reflect the heat better than darker colours.

• When outside, wearing a hat protects you from overheating and sunstroke. It also helps you to keep your hair from drying out in the sun. Choose a cap in a pale colour, don´t wear a dark coloured hat as that attracts heat to your head and will cause you to sweat more.

• Another, more elegant idea would be to carry a parasol. This is quite typical in many Asian countries, but in Spain recently I have seen that the trend seems to be catching on here and you see people more often walking along with their coloured parasol to shield them from the powerful rays of the hot sun.

• It is extremely important to wear sunglasses that protect from UV radiation and also avoid looking directly at the sun.


• I always keep a bottle of Aloe Vera in the fridge for calming heat rash, relieving sun burn, or as an itchy skin or prickly heat remedy.

• Using talcum powder when it´s hot can help with skin problems. (If you are concerned with chemicals used in talc there are now cornstarch natural powders available.)

• If you are hiking or doing an outdoor activity in the heat, a good tip is to wet a cotton neck scarf and tie it onto your neck, this cools you down and gives relief immediately. Of course this doesn’t have to be drinking water if you don´t have much to spare.

• Take cool showers rather than warm ones.


• Drink a lot of water; you need to increase liquid consumption by drinking more than usual when the temperatures rise.

• It´s best to avoid alcoholic drinks and caffeine as they dehydrate you.

• Keep in the shade or in air-conditioned places at the hottest times of the day. Plan to do things in the cooler hours, first thing in the morning or in the early evening if possible. In Spain, people tend to make the most of the hours between 10-12am to run errands, and then again from 7pm-9pm in the heat of summer. No one is on the streets at 3pm!

• Don´t eat heavy meals and try to avoid hot meals too.

• Eat a lot of fruit; choose food with high water content such as salad, melon, cold soups such as gazpacho or vichyssoise.

All pictures courtesy of Molly Sears Piccavey.

Many thanks to Molly for her contribution to the InterNations blog.

Molly blogs regularly at and can be found on Twitter @piccavey.

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