Heatwave: Are you here for it? Or over it? The UK is in the middle of its longest heatwave since 1976, with temperatures a whopping 10 degrees above average for the time of year. While many of us are loving the unexpected sunshine, temperatures have been on the up for over a month, and even the most devoted of sun worshippers can admit that keeping cool is becoming a challenge! Whether it’s keeping cool on your commute or bring the “brrrrr” back to bedtime, we’ve got tips to help you cool off and get back to embracing this unusually hot summer!
Met office advice for the heatwave
First of all, the Met office have released some important advice for the heatwave. For all we enjoy the sun on occasion, prolonged exposure can come with short and long term health risks. This is what the Met office are advising:
- Stay out of the sun as far as you can
- Keep your home as cool as possible
- Keep drinking fluids
- Be mindful of people you know who may be at special risk in the heat, like elderly people living alone. Make sure they know what to do and help out where you can.
Keeping hydrated in the heatwave
When out enjoying the sun, or in any warm area, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids. Becoming dehydrated can be incredibly serious, but fortunately is easy to prevent! Water is the best and most obvious choice of beverage for hydration, especially since it’s free if you drink tap water. If you’re having trouble keeping your water cold when you’re out and about, invest in a re-usable Chilly’s water bottle. They aren’t the cheapest to buy up front, but they can be used both to keep drinks cool during a heatwave and warm in the winter, so they have excellent cost per use value.
Not a water fan? No problem. If plain tap water doesn’t float your boat, you can jazz it up a couple of slices of fruit or a drop of cordial to give it more flavour. Coconut water is also a great, tasty option as it helps replenish a lot of the minerals you lose from sweat in warm weather. Steer clear of alcoholic drinks when you’re trying to stay hydrated, though. While they can be refreshing at the time, they’re diuretics and cause you to lose fluid at a faster rate than you’re taking it in.
Keeping cool at home
Filling your house with electric fans to cool it down may be effective, but it’s not cost efficient. After all, what will you do with all those fans for the majority of the year when it isn’t a heatwave? Fortunately, there are a number of more budget-friendly tips you can try to keep the temperature in your house down. For example, keeping blinds and curtains closed will shut out the sunlight and keep some of the heat at bay. Keeping windows closed can also help stop more warm air from getting in. These are obvious ones, though. Here are some of our favourite, more unusual tips:
Hack a fan
This is a simple but effective trick. Fill a mixing bowl with ice, then position it in front of a large fan so that the air blows over the ice and becomes ultra-chilled. Perfect for when not even a powerful fan is quite doing the job!
Be door smart
If you’re not in a room, keep the door closed. This will help stop heat leaking out of it and ruining the efforts you’re making to keep other parts of your house cool. Interestingly, this trick also works in the winter as it keeps the heat where you want it so you can stay snuggly!
Turn on your extractor fans
Extractor fans are common in most houses, both in kitchens and bathrooms. If you can turn them on independently of other appliances, they’ll help to pull hot air out of your house and keep it cool.
Sleep low, sweet chariot
Heat rises. So, where do you want to be to stay cool? As low as possible! If you have a downstairs room that you could turn into a bedroom temporarily, that’s the best option for getting a cool night’s sleep without burning through electricity to power fans. If not, then you could try moving onto a camp bed that’s closer to the floor.
Alternatively, you can place ice packs wrapped in tea towels at the foot of your bed to help your sheets stay cool. Cotton sheets are a great choice in hot weather because they’re more breathable and therefore stay cooler, too.
Focus on your temperature, not the house’s
There’s a lot to be said for old tricks like drinking a hot drink to cool down. Bear with us on this one – there is method to the madness. Drinking a hot cup of tea (or similar) increases your internal temperature. The body’s response to temperature increases is to sweat. As sweat evaporates from the skin, it cools us down. In addition to this, it increases heat loss and reduces body heat storage, meaning your overall temperature comes down as a result. A spicy curry has the same effect, if you prefer that!
If you can’t face sweating it out, then another old trick, running your wrists under the cold tap, helps too. Your wrists are a strong-pulse area, which means a lot of blood is passing through them. Running your wrists under the cold tap reduces the temperature of your blood, and as it moves away from your wrists around your body, it brings your overall temperature down. Bliss.
You are what you eat
When it’s hot outside, eating cold food with high water content is not only insanely refreshing, it’ll help to cool you down, too. Water-heavy foods like cucumber and watermelon come with an added bonus of being easy to digest. This means your body doesn’t generate as much heat as a by-product of getting the food through your system so you’ll stay cooler for longer!
Plus, eating cold food means you won’t be turning your oven or hob on, both of which contribute to unwanted heat in your house in a heatwave.
Create a wind tunnel
While common advice is to keep your windows closed to keep the heat out, you can tactically open a few to create a cooling breeze through your house. If you can work out which side of your house is facing downwind, open the top section of the windows on this side. On the opposite side of the house, the upwind side, open the bottom sections. You can read more about the science of how this works on Tree Hugger.
Need more ideas on how to stay cool? Check out our top tips on staying cool on a London commute!