Who doesn’t love those summer months where the days are longer, the sun is brighter, and life feels even more beautiful? While summer is typically the most active season, filmmakers face long stretches of time under the sun, sweltering heat waves, and less time to recover after the work day. We care about protecting your health so you can give your 100% on set.
Summers are only heating up, rising much higher in temperature now than in previous decades. In fact, according to Climate Central, the United States is experiencing more “extremely hot days annually” compared to the past 50 years. That means filmmakers need to prepare and take action for the challenges that lie ahead.
Let’s take a closer look below at how you can stay safe, cool, and in your zone while on the job.
But first, take a deeper dive into health and wellness specific to your filmmaking lifestyle.
- Health Habits for Filmmakers: Sleep Wellness
- Energy Management is Your Key to Success
- Filmmaking Nutrition: Clean Eating On Set
- Mental Health in the Film Industry
EXTREME HEAT TAKES A TOLL ON THE BODY
Filmmakers who work outside during heat waves need to take even more precautions. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists outside workers as a vulnerable population to excessive heat.
There are a few types of heat-related illnesses to be aware of:
- Heat stroke
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat syncope
- Heat cramps
- Heat rash
Heat stress is when your body temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down. What heightens your chances of heat-related illnesses are high levels of humidity, dehydration, poor circulation, sunburn, and cardiovascular preconditions. And that’s just to name a few!
While the summer heat is unavoidable, here are a few simple solutions for the summer months.
STAY HYDRATED WITH WATER
I know this seems obvious but it cannot be overstated. Hydrating with water is your number one way to endure the heat. Anywhere from 45 to 75% of your body is made up of water and under hot weather conditions, you can lose upwards of 1.5 liters an hour.
When your internal temperature rises, it triggers the sympathetic nervous system which, in turn, activates your sweat glands. The sympathetic nervous system is also responsible for your fight or flight response and when stressed with extreme heat, may cause fatigue, weakness and trouble with balance or vision. In order to stay hydrated, workers should drink around 10 liters of water throughout the working day.
One of the first things you should do during your morning routine is to drink a glass of water to rehydrate. That’s because you can lose about a liter of water just when sleeping. It’s recommended to drink 12 to 16 ounces of room temperature water to replace water loss immediately.
Many productions provide cases of water for the crew. However, consider what happens to those bottles at high temperatures, the plastic contains chemicals that leach into the water. Think back to all the cases of water you’ve seen baking under the sun or sitting on hot truck beds. A better alternative is to take your own hydro flask to set and fill it from a tap water source, if possible to cherish the cells in your body.
Some of us prefer something with caffeine or a little more taste than water to keep awake and energized. Drinking a lot of caffeine like coffee, energy drinks, or soft drinks will only leave you feeling more dehydrated. Even sports drinks, if over-consumed, can have a lot of sodium, so be careful.
If you want to add some flavor to your water routine, there are powder drink mixes like Junp. It comes in pouches that you can easily add to your water to get those electrolytes and much-needed minerals. There’s also coconut water that contains nutrients and keeps you nice and hydrated.
Right now, everyone is on the Celsius kick. Celsius is a fitness drink that has caffeine but too much could cause diarrhea and nausea. Rather than drink every day, it’s better to drink on occasion as a treat.
Just remember, caffeinated beverages are not a water alternative. So, that means much more water than tea or coffee. I have 2 cups max in a day with a lot of water in between. If you prefer tea, try and turn to uncaffeinated options.
SUMMER MEAL BREAKS
While water is essential, it is also important to replace salt and glucose to maintain blood glucose levels and avoid fatigue. If you are only drinking water, meal breaks are crucial to getting your salt and glucose intake. In the past, we covered in-depth how to benefit from clean eating on set, but here are some foods that are especially useful when it’s hot outside.
When working in the blazing heat, avoid processed foods and anything high in sugar, like doughnuts, muffins, candy bars, and grains. Instead, here are some of the most satisfying snacks during a heatwave. You can always pack your own snacks as you never know what craft service will provide.
Whether it’s watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew, melon is perfect for keeping cool and hydrated. Not to mention, it’s extremely satisfying munching into a cool piece of melon.
What’s more gratifying than popping a berry in your mouth? Skip over the bag of chips and reach for the strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and blueberries.
They’re so good that they are sometimes even added to water jugs to help with hydration. Cucumbers are 95% water and are perfect to eat raw.
Almonds retain a lot of water and if you get the salted kind, they are a great source of sodium and protein for water purists.
When dressing for a heatwave, you may have to make some sacrifices. Let’s be honest, tight-fitting fashionable clothing doesn’t typically breathe well. So, if you’re wearing jeans or various layers, you’re doing it all wrong. The best summer clothing is lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting.
You can find the best outdoor clothing at REI from brands like Patagonia and ExOfficio, among others. Not only is this SPF clothing lightweight, but you can get material that is insect repellant, moisture wicking, and quick drying.
My cinematographer husband prefers to wear long pants and boots even in the hottest temperatures. He does so because in the past while wearing shorts he burned and cut himself on the job. So, that extra layer is a means of support. However, the material he wears is thin and breathable, so they don’t feel hot and uncomfortable. As for the footwear, he chooses the boot brand ECCO for comfort and protection along with cushiony Thorlos socks that support him for 12+ hour days.
Depending on where you live, it’s a good idea to always keep a jacket handy. For example, while Los Angeles has some pretty brutal heatwaves, the nights can still drop to low temperatures. A Patagonia Nano Puff jacket is easy to store away and doesn’t take up much space.
It’s also important to protect your head and face from the sun with a hat. Shane likes to don a Tilley brand hat with a broad brim, which protects his face and neck from burning in the summer sky. Shane’s favorite model is spf, moisture wicking, and water repellant.
Protect your eyes with a solid pair of sunglasses that protect from ultraviolet rays. Filmmaking is a visual medium that requires attention to detail. That is pretty impossible when the sun is shining directly in your eyes.
It’s not just your clothing that helps you through the hot weather but also the utility of the accessories you keep on you. Anything bulky is a no-go – so if you have a George Costanza-sized wallet, you should consider swapping it out for something more manageable.
Slim cardholders with a keychain or a skinny ID case help you to condense your essential cards. For extra security, you should even consider a radio frequency identification (RFID) blocking wallet to protect your cards from getting stolen.
When you store lots of things in your pockets, they tend to generate heat and keep you hot. That’s why backpacks and even fanny packs are cooler options. They also help you stay organized so you never leave home forgetting your phone, wallet, or keys!
Who’s a glasses wearer out there that suffered from foggy lenses while wearing masks? The weather can even exacerbate the problem. Our 1st AC mentor, Derek Edwards discovered the perfect solution in the form of OptiPlus anti-fog lens wipes. That’s because while working with cameras, your vision is everything. And they’re easy to store in your camera bag!
You can also store your daily vitamins in easily concealable vitamin packs. They don’t take up a lot of space, and your vitamins are protected until you take them at lunch. I personally like to make Sunday the day I pack my vitamins for the week so I don’t need to worry when I get busy.
PROTECT YOUR SKIN
Last but not least, there’s nothing worse than getting fried to a crisp because you forgot to put on your sunscreen. Then, for the following week, you will weather the stages of shedding your skin.
Sunscreen is absolutely essential for blocking harmful UV rays and can prevent more harmful illnesses like skin cancer. One blistering sunburn can double the chance that you get melanoma later. On top of that, don’t forget your SPF lip balm to keep your lips safe under the summer sun.
THE BOTTOM LINE
We spend so much time protecting our equipment, but we need to focus on also protecting ourselves. Your health doesn’t take a vacation. The choices that you make today have a ripple effect and impact you 30 years from now. Remember, it’s not just about fashion, it’s about what works for you to feel your best doing what you love!
Stay safe this summer!