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Staying Cool: 5 Tips for Beating the Summer Heat While Doing Voter Outreach

Michelle Stockwell

Non-partisan civic engagement efforts are so important to the health of our democracy, but how do you protect your canvassers from the record-breaking summer heat? Here are five tips for keeping you and your canvassers safe while they're engaging voters and knocking doors.

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1. Stay hydrated.

Make sure that you and your canvassers have access to plenty of cold water. The key is to drink as soon as you become thirsty. Even mild dehydration can hinder your body’s ability to regulate its core temperature. Water is your best option. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which are diuretics and can actually worsen dehydration. 

You can eat your water, too. Provide snacks like apples and watermelon that are full of water.

2. Keep ice on hand.

You can also place ice directly on your body to cool yourself down. Apply ice or a cold cloth directly to your cheeks and feet. Since those areas are both packed with blood vessels that don’t contract in the presence of cold, cooling these areas can lower your body temperature 50 percent more after 5 minutes than you would have by applying the same cold compresses to your neck and armpits.

If you take a break in a restroom, hold your wrists under running cold water. This will also help your body lose heat more rapidly.

3. Wear cool, breathable clothing.

Wear light-colored synthetic or exercise clothing that is designed to wick away sweat in the Summer heat. If you live in a low-humidity environment, consider wearing loose, long-sleeved clothing that protects your skin from the sun. 

Avoid wearing cotton, which absorbs your sweat and holds the moisture against your body. This can actually increase your body temperature. 

4. Start early.

On weekends, it’s generally considered acceptable to start knocking doors at 9am. On voting day, you’ll want to start knocking doors as early as 7am, so that you can catch people before they leave for work. You can also beat the heat by reaching voters after 4pm. 

5. Take breaks indoors or in the shade. 

Direct sun exposure can significantly affect your body temperature. Try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Take regular breaks inside or in the shade. If your canvassers don't have access to a car, be prepared to pick canvassers up to give them a break from the heat. 

If you or your canvassers begin to feel faint or weak, it is important to stop immediately and get indoors. Educate yourself about the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is severe and requires immediate medical attention. 

Looking to run a better non-partisan civic engagement program? Check out our webinar on 10 Tips for Running an Effective Canvass

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Topics: voter contact, organizing, webinar, advocacy, community, organizer