Mystery shopping in the summer can be hot and sweaty. Here in Texas, just getting in the car in the summer can make you feel as though heat stroke is imminent! As you go from place to place, leaving your car parked in the hot sun, running in and out of shop locations, the heat can be very uncomfortable and, in extreme situations, even dangerous.
These tips can help you stay cool as you do your summer mystery shopping.
When you can, schedule your shops in the cooler times of the day. Can you go first thing in the morning, or after the hottest part of the afternoon? If the sun isn’t beating down on you, you will feel more comfortable.
Wear sunscreen. Even short exposures to sun have an effect. Put SPF 15 or greater on any exposed skin, especially your face.
Dress appropriately. Wear cool, comfortable clothing in light colors. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, or the wicking clothes that are made to “wick” moisture from your body can keep you cooler. If you are going to spend a lot of time indoors, such as having a meal at a restaurant, you may want to bring a light sweater or jacket with you. The air conditioning can give you a chill.
Drink lots of water. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. At that point you are already dehydrated. Drink water regularly all day. Sports drinks (such as Gatorade and Powerade) are good, as they can replace electrolytes that you lose through sweat.
Keep a cooler in the car filled with ice and cool drinks. I like to put a couple of bottles of water in the freezer, then use them to keep other beverages cool in the cooler. The bottles of water stay frozen for several hours and don’t make a mess in the cooler like ice cubes do. By the end of the day, the water bottles are usually thawed but still cold–drink them last.
Avoid drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. They have a diuretic effect and do not hydrate you. (And you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol when you are working and driving, anyway.) Although cold drinks are great, watch out for frozen drinks, such as slushies. The extreme cold can cause stomach cramps and “brain freeze.”
Eat light meals. Heavy meals take more energy to digest. A piece of fruit or a cup of low-fat yogurt is a great snack. Freeze some grapes and put them in your cooler for a refreshing treat.
Don’t take kids and pets along and leave them in the car. Even if you only expect to be gone for a few minutes, even if you leave the windows cracked open, even if anything. Leave them at home. It only takes a few minutes for a parked car to reach dangerous temperatures. We hear horror stories every summer-don’t make your family one of them.
Watch for signs of overheating. Symptoms can include nausea, flushing, muscle cramps, dizziness and more. If you get overheated or dehydrated, get out of the sun and into a cool place. Sip cool water or a sports drink. If symptoms do not abate soon, get medical attention.
Following the tips here can keep you safe, comfortable and cool as you mystery shop.