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The part of the country that you call home determines the typical conditions you’ll find to be the norm in your food truck. During the winter months in northern cities, your kitchen will help you and you staff stay comfortably warm. Trucks located in these same northern cities in the summer, along with trucks that are located in predominantly warm climates, have the most problems keeping their truck’s kitchen cool.

Keeping cool when temperatures reach record highs isn’t just about comfort. When it’s 100 degrees outside, it can be 120 degrees or warmer in your food truck. Dangerously high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

As it turns out, there are plenty of cheap and easy ways to beat the summer heat without beating up the environment or your wallet. Green isn’t just cool: Cool is green. The following tips can help you keep cool at those times when the inside temperature of your truck becomes unbearable:

  • Select a cool location when parking your food truck, if available. A spot in the shade is ideal. Make sure any nearby trees or overhanging branches are stable and won’t fall and damage your mobile kitchen.

  • Set up the awning (if you have one) when you’re parked. The awning shades not only the service window but also the side of the food truck, and helps protect your customers and employees from the sun’s sweltering rays.

  • Make sure you minimize the heat load as much as possible. I understand that you run a mobile food business and the kitchen is where you make your money, but don’t generate heat unnecessarily. Turn off as many kitchen appliances as possible; lights, televisions, laptops, and other electronics also generate heat, so minimize their use, too.

    If you’re using a refrigeration unit, you absolutely need to keep this running. To limit the amount of energy the refrigerator uses and the heat it generates, make sure the coils on the back are clean and well maintained.

  • Open the windows at night or any time there’s a breeze. This simple action creates a crosswind in the vehicle and can significantly help cool the temperature. Use small battery- or solar-powered fans throughout the vehicle to keep air circulating.

  • Cover the windows of the truck with blackout curtains or windscreen covers. These keep the sunlight and heat out.

  • If cooking outside is an option in your area, do so. Using the oven or grill heats up the small space inside a food truck in no time.

  • Dress appropriately. Wear loose-fitting clothing — but not so loose that they become a fire hazard while you’re cooking — especially clothes made of cotton, to draw moisture away from your body. Dress for the heat by wearing shorts and, by all means, choose light instead of dark-colored clothing. Dark clothing attracts heat, leaving you hot and steamy.

  • Wet a towel with cold water and wrap it around your neck. The towel cools the passing blood in your veins, thereby cooling the body’s temperature.

  • Speaking of wet towels, jump in a cool shower to cool down when you’ve just had enough. This is a great practice just before you go to bed, too. It removes the sweat from your body and opens the skin’s pores to allow the body to cool.

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