7 Common Sense Hacks for Staying Cool When Working in the Heat

When we moved to Idaho, we had no idea that it could reach 105 degrees on our property. As we are trying to build a house, we have no choice but to frequently work through the heat of the day. We thought we’d share some of our best tips for keeping cool when working in the heat and in hot weather.

Check out the video above – it’s a goodie! But for more detailed information (and even product recommendations that we mention in the video, keep on reading!

How to Stay Cool Outside in Extreme Heat

1. Set up a shade canopy.

The first summer on our property, we had absolutely no shade. Whether we were working on food preservation, making root beer or working on our diy hot tub, we were in full-sun. All day long.

This year, we smartened up a bit.

Jesse already had a 10×10 shade canopy, so we set it up!

We also purchased a larger 10×20 canopy for the extra shade. Guests love it when they’re over for a visit.

Now, whether we’re milling lumber with our portable sawmill or fine-tuning our solar power system, we have a place to retreat to!

tips for safely working in the heat

2. Reduce heat by setting up a misting system.

In addition to the canopy, a tip for working in the sun is to try setting up a mist cooling system to keep the heat at bay.

We were able to build our system for $15 or so from a local garden store.

While this obviously doesn’t cool down the temperature of the air, it can help to moisten your skin and cool you down by evaporating.

You’d be amazed how a little mist to the face boosts morale on a hot summer day!

3. Get to know the shade schedule on your property or work site.

For us, we have a lot of projects to do all around the property, so it pays to know what will be in the shade and when!

When we were finishing up our off grid water system, there were portions to do at the bottom of the hill (sunny in the day) and top of the hill (shaded most of the day)… so we chose to work in the shade, but never stopped working!

Work smarter to avoid heat exhaustion.

working safely in hot weather

4. Wear hot weather clothing.

This is something we’re passionate about – wear the right clothing for working in the heat. Chose clothing that’s lightweight, wicking, light in color and even long sleeve shirts that protect your skin from the sun.

Hot Weather Clothing for Men

Here are two of Jesse’s go-to clothing articles for the summer. Can you tell? He wears them daily! Proof is in the videos!

sun hat with flaps - working in the heat Armachillo Sun Cape Hat – Jesse doesn’t like wide-brim hats (he feels they limit his vision), but a baseball cap doesn’t provide enough coverage. He was happy to find this cape hat to protect his next! The best of both worlds!
summer heat safety tips - wear long sleeve shirt Armachillo Long Sleeve Cooling Shirt – Jesse was skeptical about this shirt because it was so lightweight (usually means it’s not durable), but low and behold, it’s standing up to the test of time. Jesse’s been wearing this daily for almost two months, and even though the shirt has been abused, it’s holding up well! This is just ounces in weight, comfortable, flexible, and keeps the sun off Jesse’s skin

Hot Weather Clothing for Women

Finding quality workwear for women has been a particular challenge. Luckily, we were introduced to Duluth Trading Company and Alyssa’s needs for the heat have been met!

What we love about Duluth is that not only is their clothing highly-functional (they take great care to incorporate their customers’ feedback into their designs), but dare I say, it’s even fashionable. I might even call it flattering which is a huge bonus in workwear

tips for working safely in the sun - clothing for women Dry on the Fly Slim Leg Pants – I’ve previously had bad luck with these lightweight wicking pants, so I was hesitant to order these, but I’m in love with these. I love that these are slim leg (less bulk in the calves), they’re stretchy, ironically great to work in, lightweight and wicking. I have another pair of these on the way in khaki.
best work shirts for hot weather Armachillo Cooling V-Neck T-Shirt – This is my favorite shirt to-date. Lightweight, synthetic, wicking, and flattering in all the right places. I love the v-neck, gusseted back and definition in the waist… all things that make otherwise boring workwear flattering on the female body!
long sleeve shirts for hot weather Action UPF 50 Shirt – This is another summer favorite. I despite sunscreen, but by wearing this, I’m able to protect my precious skin from the rays of the sun. Duluth has more options in their summer lineup… check them out for a shirt that fits your needs and style.
hat for working in the heat safety Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat – We’ve had these for over a year now and love them (me more so than Jesse)! Highly durable, UPF 50+, wide brim, ventilation and a draw string. What more could you possibly want?

heat stress safety tips

5. Try products to stay cool in the heat.

These things sounded gimicky to us at first, but we’re happy to report that these things do feel good when on your body!

work safety in the heat Frogg Toggs The Original Chilly Pad Cooling Towel – We this thing once and it will stay cool for hours. We tested this out the other day and were surprised with how cool the towel gets and stays. It does have a cooling effect as the breeze moves over the towel, and it’s nice to just push against your check when you’re over-heating!
safely working in the summer Cooling Bandanas – A similar option to the chilly pad, cooling bandanas are reusable and provide a constant cooling effect.

how to stay cool in summer

6. Avoid working in the heat of the day all-together. Try to find indoor activities.

Easier said than done when trying to build a house as we are, but use this free project management software to organize our lives. We have task lists for “evening work” and “heat of day work”.

We recently got an RV air conditioner and let’s just say it’s really upped our productivity.

For us, there’s ALWAYS work to be done whether it’s inside or outside work, so when the heat is really unbearable, or we’re not under a strict deadline, we try to take advantage of air conditioning!

7. Hydrate days in advance.

It’s a no-brainer to stay hydrated when you’re working in the heat. However, not everyone knows that to be adequately hydrated, you must drink plenty of water days before you’ll need it!

We try to drink copious amounts of water maybe three days before we’ll be working in the sun.

Also, be sure to have water next to where you’re working. If water is near you, you’re more likely to drink it!

If all else fails, throw in the towel to have some fun!

As a plan B (or C), find some water to play in! In all honesty, very few of us have the luxury to do this whenver we want which is why we created this video and blog post!

Stay tuned as we work through the heat to begin the construction of our home… should start the excavation within 1-2 weeks! Are you as excited as we are?!

working in hot weather safety

What are your working in the heat safety tips? Share below!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

Comments

  1. Andre says

    A misting system DO cool down the actual air! I have measured up to about 20deg !The lower the ambient humidity the more efficient the system is. A little bit of wind is good but too much wind blows away the cool, moist air.
    It also works wonders with tiny seedlings in hot dry weather. Just give them a bit of shade, increase the humidity and cool down the air with a mist.

    Swamp or evaporator coolers work on the same principal and can provide lots of cooled air at minimal energy cost.

    Keep up the good work!!

  2. Mary Rose says

    I do long distance walking in Florida in the summer. We get up at 5 AM to get in a 3 hours before the heat sets in. For the first hour or so, we wear head lamps. I use cooling towels in ice packed plastic bags and pouring water over my head. We also stop every 20 minutes to hydrate- I’m overweight so I wipe with iced cooling towels every 20 minutes too- helps bring my HR down right away!

  3. says

    One more tip I would give is to wet yourself down periodically. As in dousing with a hose, jumping in a pool or pond, or just dunking your shirt in water and putting it back on. As we also are building our house this summer, we too have found ways to stay cool outside in nearly 100° heat. We use all your strategies plus the one I mentioned. Thanks for posting!

  4. mike scansaroli says

    I have been buying Duluth products for years. they are the most rugged items I have ever seen. I have 3 year old socks that look like new and are comfortable. also have a leather belt from them, over6 years old and still looks like new. I carry a sidearm often on the belt and it shows no wear.

    At 6′ 4″ I appreciate the extra long shirts, again , seem to last forever.

    Good luck on the house, I have been watching since the first trailer days and love your commitment.

  5. Norris720 says

    Staying cool is a must. Hydration must take place days before and exhausting activity and keep plenty of water near the project. I keep frozen bottle of water in a cooler near by and I always have cold water handy. From the hose down picture I see the Grizzley.3 in the background and it is getting some work in I see. Have you found away to fine tune your filtering gravel and dirt . Ground breaking soon?

    • says

      Yes, grizzly 3.0 is ridiculously awesome! Can’t wait to share. And we hope to pour footings the last weekend in July which means we’ll begin excavation for the site in about a week or so! We’re also committed to doing a timber frame workshop the last week of October which means there’s no going back now!

  6. Bob Mac says

    Hey guys, it’s great to see the progress you’re making. I enjoy your vids.
    I recommended Duluth Trading to you a few months ago (probably not the only one).
    One other product to look into from DT is their Armachillo underwear.
    It’s not cheap, about $17 a pair on sale (men’s). I own several pairs and can honestly say they make a difference in the really hot weather.

    Good luck with the homestead.

    Bob

  7. Katie says

    We’ve been clearing and preparing our land in Southern Texas. In addition to several of your suggestions, we fill our cooler with mostly frozen water bottles. Makes for cold drinking water when they thaw and they keep each other cooler longer. Plus, I use them to cool down every time I take a drink break. Hold ice or run cold water over areas of your body that are close to your veins (like your wrists). It cools your blood down and carries that through your body. We used to do this to cool horses down.

    …And Yes! We are also excited to see your house being built!

  8. says

    Growing up in Australia, hats like you’re wearing are common accessories. Especially if you work in a trade involving outside work. We’re just like you guys, hating to wear sunscreen, and prefer light cotton, long sleeve shirts, with a wide brim hat. I also wear 3/4 pants, or knickerbockers, if you’re old school.

    Another tip for staying cool, especially for older people or those with mobility issues, is having a tub of water (in a wide bucket) to sit your feet in, when sitting down. You don’t need the upkeep of a swimming pool and you don’t have to look good in a pair of swimmers. But a bucket of water will cool your pressure points, and by the time the blood works its way back to the heart, it’s not as hot.

    One more tip with pressure points, is to tie a wet handkerchief or bandanna, around your wrists. This also cools the pressure points, and makes a huge difference in the cooling effect of the entire body. Careful not to tourniquet your wrists though. Blood has a long way to travel, from the heart to the ends of your limbs, and back again. Which is why concentrating on your pressure points (ankles and wrists) offers a noticeable cooling effect to the entire body. Back of the knees is another good one. Misting the backs of the knees with a spray bottle, will make you jump in the heat. Especially if you keep your spray bottle in the fridge.

    I dare you to try that one, on a really hot day. 😉

  9. Richard Scott Kramm says

    A timber frame work shop? Is Jesse a timber framer? I work for Texas Timber Frames near San Antonio. I would love to hear and see all about your plans!
    Looking forward to hearing from your blog!

  10. wk3 says

    While there are probably thousands of gadgets for keeping something wet on your body for cooling, I find that I get hot unexpectedly: temperature higher than expected, diverted to direct sun and away from shade, clouds cleared off sooner than expected, wind died down, etc.

    My solution? Dump a little water onto my head to wet hair (spread around thoroughly) and/or moisten my shirt. No accessories needed. Depending on my hair length, comfortable cooling lasts from 10 minutes (kayaking on the Deschutes River in 110 °F/43 °C, wind at 25 mph and 10% humidity) to more than an hour in more ordinary conditions (hiking in the Columbia Gorge at 86 °F/30 °C in frequent shade and little wind).

  11. says

    We’re just at the beginning of our land-clearing-house-building journey after closing on five acres in Grand Marais, MN on July 17th. We’re really digging White Sierra Bug-Free shirts – long sleeved, lightweight, and really does work to keep the bugs off as we’ve been clearing land. We don’t have water at our site yet, but we bring a cooler with three or four liters of water, as well as a powdered electrolyte mix. We drink clear water and electrolyte water evenly, and that really helps. After suffering heat exhaustion twice, I’m super sensitive to heat (and heat, to use up here is anything over around 78 degrees). If I bonk out, I’ll get a debilitating migraine, and water just wasn’t enough, so that’s when I thought to add in electrolytes, too. The powder we use is called Ultima and it comes in lots of different flavors, all delicious.

    I’ve really been enjoying reading about your story, and love the new posts! Keep it coming!

  12. Cory Belt says

    Hello my name is Cory belt and I’ve been watching your videos and you guys are doing a great job. I’m also from Oregon and I travel around for my job witch is construction. Just wanted to no if you guys have thought about putting your sewer line in under your footing, and also how much of your footing is going to stick on the outside from were your wall is going to be. It should be at least 3 to 4 inches. And also don’t forget to stub up a ground for electrical out of your footing

  13. Mike Haukeness says

    I live in Fl. and it’s been rather wamish this year. I wear shorts, either no-shirt, or just a undershirt type shirt but their in colors(ok so I’m not the sharpest knife in the box). and a issued, tan boonie hat. works for me. Worked almost 40 yrs outside for phone co. 4 yrs military(2 yrs Vietnam)(it was quite warm there, in the dry season and quite wet in the rainy season)(oh yea, in the wet season I was in the northern part on the DMZ, the temp dropped down to 65* an almost froze).
    Realty, I mean from about 105* to 65* and staying wet, big change.
    I’m kinda use to hot weather, which means, yeah I get hot but if you drink a lot, pace your self, wet cloths around neck, and drink a lot after work(no, ice tea). But in my whole life I never wore long sleeve shirts in warm weather, and used either a hat with a full brim or maybe a cap. never wore anything that would black air movement around my neck(only wet cloths and took them off when they dried out) yeah I got a lot of sun but you build up a decent tan. Never had sin cancer as I know of. An one big thing for hot weather, wear light colored clothes. I’ve seen people wear dark colored shirts and they would sweat like a (ah, we had little witticisms, but this is not a good place) anyway they would sweat profusely.

  14. Mike Haukeness says

    I live in Fl. and it’s been rather wamish this year. I wear shorts, either no-shirt, or just a undershirt type shirt but their in colors(ok so I’m not the sharpest knife in the box). and a issued, tan boonie hat. works for me. Worked almost 40 yrs outside for phone co. 4 yrs military(2 yrs Vietnam)(it was quite warm there, in the dry season and quite wet in the rainy season)(oh yea, in the wet season I was in the northern part on the DMZ, the temp dropped down to 65* an almost froze).
    Realty, I mean from about 105* to 65* and staying wet, big change.
    I’m kinda use to hot weather, which means, yeah I get hot but if you drink a lot, pace your self, wet cloths around neck, and drink a lot after work(no, ice tea). But in my whole life I never wore long sleeve shirts in warm weather, and used either a hat with a full brim or maybe a cap. never wore anything that would block air movement around my neck(only wet cloths and took them off when they dried out) yeah I got a lot of sun but you build up a decent tan. Never had skin cancer as I know of. An one big thing for hot weather, wear light colored clothes. I’ve seen people wear dark colored shirts and they would sweat like a (ah, we had little witticisms, but this is not a good place) anyway they would sweat profusely.

  15. says

    Love what you guys are ding and sharing- As far as the heat my best thought is HYDRATION. I seem to bear up well and don’t take much of the other precautions mentioned but water is the key.
    Typically I get plenty of water and when a hot workday comes- just a little more-

    Thanks again,

    Al

  16. Mike Renner says

    We also built our home during the hot summer. I learned long ago when we went camping to keep my t- shirt wet. It keeps me nice and cool. When we where building your house we had a well dug first and I used the 65 degree water to wet my close when it is over 100 degrees out. Just one warning. Do not put 65 degree water over head with a water hose on a hot working day. You may go into shock.

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