Jungle Pic MoD/Crown copyright
Health and Fitness

Think It's Hot Here In The UK? It's Nothing Like The Heat Of The Jungle

Ever wondered what it is like for the British Armed Forces operating in some of the hottest parts of the planet?

Jungle Pic MoD/Crown copyright

As a heatwave sweeps across the UK, whether on the train, in the office, the tube ride home, airports or bus stations, you might likely hear the muttering of ‘Oh it’s bloody hot’ or ‘this heat is unbearable’ or even ‘I think I may be melting’.

The world is getting hotter, temperatures in this hot spell are likely to peak at 39 degrees across the UK - and people are losing their minds.

But have you ever wondered what it is like for the British Armed Forces operating in some of the hottest parts of the planet and how they keep cool?

That includes everywhere from the jungles of Brunei to the British military’s training base in Kenya and Afghanistan - where temperatures can reach a whopping 50+ degrees.

Here are some of the measures, advice and tips that come with jungle operations.

Temperatures in the jungle can get extremely hot while wearing body armour, while carrying a weapon and kit, and, combined with the hostile terrain, this creates a very challenging environment.

Troops can sometimes only travel as little as a few hundreds metres a DAY before exhaustion kicks in and they have to stop.

After walking/cutting your way through just one hundred metres in the jungle, you become a very hot and sweaty mess.

One of the toughest jobs in the jungle is that of the Lead Scout - the person who finds/leads the groups track through the jungle.

They are usually the one who tires first, so ensure you routinely change the Lead Scout. 

Due to excess sweating, the pores of your skin become blocked and the skin can no longer breath, so prickly heat becomes a real nightmare to manage.

If you have never had prickly heat, the only way to describe it is a nasty, tickling, itchy, burning sensation all over the body.

A simple trick to remedy prickly heat is to use medicated soap, coupled with an exfoliating glove to unblock the pores of the skin - you will have to ask your favourite oppo (mate) to get to all the hard to reach places.

As the body’s core temperature rises in this type of environment, there is a real risk of heat-stroke or even death.

To reduce these risks, wear loose-fitting clothing including specially-adapted jungle boots, which allow plenty of air flow around the body and feet.

Wear a jungle hat. Do not cut off the brim of the hat because you think it looks 'ally', it is there for a reason - to keep the sun off your face and neck.

Wet and dry routine is a life saver! Only wearing your wet clothes during the day - before you go to bed, you change into your dry set to sleep in. This is a jungle golden rule.

If you break this rule, you'll probably find yourself being evacuated out of the jungle.

Make sure you stay hydrated and only get your water from trusted sources. If this is unobtainable, it means you are filling your water bottle from the nearest river.

Just make sure you add one water purification tablet to one litre of water and wait at least 15 minutes before drinking.

It is not uncommon for soldiers to have to drink more than 10 litres of water a day … just to stay alive.

Then you have the added issue of dodging venomous snakes and creepy crawlies while navigating your way through the thick jungle.

Carry a pack of anti-histamine in case you get stung or bitten by the many critters out to get you. The best way to remove leeches is to spray them with insect repellent - do not burn them off like in the Hollywood movies.

Personal Hygiene is key ... you do sometimes have the odd perk of stripping off and jumping into the nearest river when the tactical situation allows, so get out your bar of medicated soap and give all your parts a good clean.

This advice will keep your body cool and working in peak condition.

So next time you say out loud ‘I can’t bear this heat’, spare a thought for the British men and women operating in some of the hottest places on earth.

Have you ever wondered how they manage to operate in such enviroments?  Well, here are some top tips to stay cool during the #HeatWaveUK

Julian Perreira served with the Grenadier Guards for more than 14 years and spent many years on operations around the world.

This included qualifying as a Jungle Warefare Instructor at the British Army Jungle Warfare Training School in Brunei.