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Beat the heat this summer.

If you’re doing a road trip through South Africa this summer, you’re in for a treat. The African summer sun is a beauty, but it can also be a beast. The kind folks at www.hellodoctor.co.za have provided us with helpful hints on how to make the most of these lazy summer days, without falling into a sunburned daze.


Make sure that you get the right sunscreen for your skin type.

Make sure that you get the right sunscreen for your skin type.

Their blog suggests the following:

  • Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to allow your body to cool properly. Cotton is best as it allows air to pass through and sweat to evaporate.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Your head is especially sensitive to heat.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to avoid sunburn. Being sunburned affects the way in which your body cools down.
  • Limit your exposure to the sun during the hottest part of the day (between 10am and 4pm).
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun or in a hot environment. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Drink more water than you need, particularly if you’ve been sweating, to prevent dehydration. It’s generally recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
  • Avoid hectic, intense activity when it is hot or humid. Schedule outdoor activities for the coolest times of the day (early in the morning or after sunset). If you have to be active during the day, don’t overdo it and maintain a pace that allows your body to adapt to the heat. Increase your fluid intake and take lots of little breaks in the shade.
  • Improve indoor air circulation: open the windows, use a fan, or get air conditioning.
  • Cut your alcohol and caffeine intake as these substances cause you to lose more fluids than you consume, which can worsen heat-related illness.

A bad sunburn can really put a damper on your vacation, so do take caution. At worst, prolonged exposure could lead to sunstroke – which will seriously spoil your holiday! www.health24.com defines sunstroke as:

“… an acute, life-threatening condition in which the body’s heat-regulating system fails, due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures, excessive production of heat or commonly a combination of the two. The body is unable to lose heat adequately in order to return to its normal temperature.”

Methinks Piggy got sunstroke...

Methinks Piggy got sunstroke…

Sounds scary! So how do you know if you or your traveling companion might have sunstroke (also known as heatstroke)? Let’s see what Wikipedia says.

“Heat stroke generally presents with a hyperthermia of greater than 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) in combination with disorientation and a lack of sweating. Before a heat stroke occurs, people show signs of heat exhaustion such as dizziness, mental confusion, headaches, and weakness; if a heat stroke occurs when the person is asleep, symptoms may be harder to notice. However, in exertional heat stroke, the affected person may sweat excessively. Young children, in particular, may have seizures. Eventually, unconsciousness, organ failure, and death will result.”

Don’t run screaming into the (shady) hills! Just remember your hat, your water bottle and, as always, trust me on the sunscreen.

If you’d rather visit South Africa during the other seasons, or if you’d like to start planning your self-drive vacation for next summer, visit us at www.goselfdrive.co.za to see how we can help.

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