On July 10, 1913, the hottest temperature in the world—a sizzling 134 degrees—was measured in Death Valley, CA. While you hopefully won’t face Death Valley level temperatures on your summer move, you may still deal with scorching heat, suffocating humidity and relentless sun.
Completing a move in the summertime is never ideal. For one thing, it’s the most expensive time to move. In addition to the extra cost, it can be unbearably hot. If you end up moving in the midst of a heat wave, however, you don’t have to end up melting into the ground as you haul furniture up and down the stairs. There are ways to make the situation safe and almost painless.
We’ve taken a cue from the people who know a thing or two about surviving the heat—the experts who live in Death Valley— and compiled this list of ways to complete a move on a hot day. Trust us, if they can do it, you can do it.
The National Park Service in Death Valley recommends drinking at least one gallon of water per day in the summer, but that amount is based on people who are doing a limited amount of moving around. If you’re moving to a new place, you’ll be be engaging in lots of physical activity, so you should plan on drinking more than a gallon of water throughout the day.
Be sure to alternate between water and drinks that contain electrolytes. If you’re sweating while loading up that moving van, that means you’re losing electrolytes. Replenish them with sports drinks and salty snacks like pretzels.
Check Your Vehicle
Having your car break down is frustrating. Having your car break down in the middle of a move on a 100 degree day can be deadly.
Experts at Death Valley recommend approaching travel on hot days with a survival mindset. In other words, you want your vehicle to be in working order but you also want to be prepared if it does break down.
Check your car’s fluid levels and battery. Always have jumper cables and the necessary equipment to change a tire. Make sure that your cell phone is fully charged during your move in case you need to call AAA or 911. And most importantly, have at least two gallons of water in your trunk.
Wear Loose Clothing
In the summer, it’s natural to start removing your clothes as the temperatures climb. But instead of reaching for shorts and a tank top on the day of your move, consider long pants and a long sleeved shirt made of light material. These will shield you from the sun. A wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen are crucial as well if you’re going to be outside for part of your move.
It’s human nature to want to complete a move as quickly as possible, but in the summer, you’ve got to pace yourself. Take breaks every hour or half hour depending on how hot it is. Rest and hydrate.
Find somewhere shady and cool, even if it means just sitting in your car with the air conditioning on full blast for a few minutes. Don’t wait until you’re tired or thirsty to take a break and have some water.
Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion
There are three stages of heat related illness. The first is heat cramps, which you might notice if you’ve been carrying a heavy box down a sunny sidewalk for longer than is comfortable. This is basically just tightening of the muscles, and is not life threatening but should be taken seriously.
The second is heat exhaustion. If you’re suffering from heat exhaustion during a move, your heart will start to beat faster, you may feel dizzy and confused and you will likely have a headache or feel nauseated. This is more serious but like heat cramps, can be treated by resting in a cool space, drinking something with electrolytes and having a salty snack.
The last stage is heatstroke, which is cause for a trip to the hospital. This occurs when your body’s temperature reaches triple digits, you struggle with breathing and you hallucinate, have a seizure or collapse. Dial 911 if this happens and obviously, put off your move for another day.
Bottom line? Know your limits. You wouldn’t do a cross-country hike in Death Valley on a 120 degree day, so if hauling boxes and furniture during a heat wave in your city makes you uncomfortable, consider doing it at night or postpone it for another day entirely. And once you’ve completed your summer move, be sure to reward yourself with a trip to the pool and a frosty margarita. You’ve survived a move in the heat. You deserve a reward.