Many of us struggle in a heat wave. And as temperatures rise across Europe, knowing how to stay cool in warm weather is increasingly important.
Because of global warming, our summers are becoming hotter and longer. So tips to stay cool are increasingly relevant. From the clothes we wear, to the food and drink we consume we can incorporate small changes during our day to help keep us cool.
9 Top Hacks for Staying Cool
Here are 9 top tips for staying cool in a heatwave:
- Use wet face cloths, ice cubes or water spray atomisers to squirt cold water onto your skin.
- Wear loose fitting, light cotton clothes.
- Keep drinking cold drinks throughout the day and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Create shade across windows to keep your home cool or close the curtains or shutters.
- Turn off appliances that generate heat when they are not needed.
- Avoid cooking hot food and switch to salads, sandwiches and other light meals.
- Where possible, plan your trips and travel to avoid being out in the peak of the summer sun.
- Exercise early in the morning when the temperatures are lower.
- Seek shade and carry your own parasols or wear a sun hat.
What to wear in a heat wave
Choose loose fitting clothes that are light in colour in a heat wave. Natural fibres like cotton and linen are excellent because they're more breathable compared to synthetic fibres, and they absorb perspiration.
Natural, organic fibres are also better for the environment, because synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are made from oil. Each time these clothes are washed they release micro-plastics into the water which cause plastic pollution in the sea. So going natural is better for us and the planet.
It's also best to wear comfortable sandals instead of shoes and socks, as this will stop your feet from swelling so much in the heat.
In the summer months, the UK is closer to the sun than in winter. So it's easier to burn in a short period of time, especially if there are no clouds in the sky. If you're in the direct sun for a long period it's best to wear long-sleeved clothes as these provide a barrier from the strong ultra violet (UV) light. Sun cream with a high sun-protection factor (SPF) is essential to prevent damage and protect your skin from premature ageing, as well as reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.
Another essential is a wide-brimmed hat or a sun parasol. Parasols are a common way to create shade whilst out and about in countries that are used to hot weather. Some sun parasols have a coating to reduce the amount of UV that goes through. But even a standard umbrella can help keep you cool in the heat.
Can hot drinks help to cool me down?
It sounds strange but hot drinks can apparently help us to cool down. A cup of tea makes the body work harder to reduce our core temperature so we sweat more. However, this only works if the sweat our glands produce can evaporate. If you are already sweating then this trick may not work.
A more fun approach is to use a water spray on your face or even ice cubes under your armpits. Water evaporating off your skin helps to reduce your temperature so water helps us to feel lovely and cool. Spray atomiser bottles are available from pharmacies or the big ones used to keep plants moist are from garden centres. These bottles can be refilled unlike aerosol canisters sold in shops.
How to sleep well in a heat wave
Struggling to sleep at night in the heat is no fun and also makes us feel drowsier the next day. So it's essential to keep your home as cool as possible.
For a good night’s sleep in the warm weather, why not:
- Ditch the duvet and just use a single sheet.
- Use cotton bed sheets.
- Take a tepid (but not freezing cold) shower before bed.
- Wear minimal night clothes in bed.
- Open windows and create a through draft at night
Remember hot air rises, so if you live in a town house or have an attic conversion you may find the downstairs rooms are more comfortable in heat. A living room camp-out can keep you cooler, and children love the adventure!
Heat stroke and the dangers of dehydration
Finally, staying cool and hydrated is really important to avoid heat exhaustion. If you have friends or neighbours who are vulnerable it is worth checking on them to make sure they don’t suffer from dehydration or heat stroke. If someone is unwell and hot, try and cool them down and call for medical assistance if they do not improve.
Warm sunny days are great but to keep comfortable wearing loose clothing, drinking lots of water and avoiding the strong sun when possible are key. If you have other top tips for staying cool in the heat wave please let us know!
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