Global warming means that heatwaves are ten times more likely to occur. This year, record-breaking temperatures have been recorded all over the globe – even in the Arctic and Antarctic. In the UK, we have reached – and even exceeded – an unprecedented 40°C.
Unfortunately, this trend is set to continue. As NASA’s figures show, the last eight years have been the hottest since records began. That’s why it’s essential to learn how to feel cool when temperatures are soaring. Here are some tips:
During a heatwave we need to drink more water than usual to maintain our body temperature and replace fluids lost through sweat. Aim to up your water consumption to around 2.5 litres a day.
We sweat because it helps control our body temperature. It works by releasing heat through beads of sweat that evaporate off the skin. Water can work the same way.
If you’re working at home, you can regularly spritz water on your face and neck. Make sure to keep your computer or laptop dry! You can also steep your feet in a bowl of water under your desk.
Use tepid water. Ice-cold water actually makes you feel warmer afterwards, because your body has to work harder to balance your core temperature with that of your skin.
If you’re outside, try and stay in the shade. If you have a garden without a tree, then buy a parasol or a sun shade sail. Remember that being in the shade won’t protect you from heat exhaustion. Keep sipping water, wear a wide brim hat and use a high protection sun cream.
Wear natural fabrics
Choose loose-fitting, light clothes made from breathable, natural fabrics, like cotton, linen and bamboo. Synthetic materials, like polyester, are water resistant. This means they're terrible at absorbing moisture. When you wear them, your sweat builds up because it has nowhere to go.
Exercise is essential for health and wellbeing. But during a heatwave, your body is already working overtime, so take it easy, especially at peak heat between 11am and 3pm.
Avoid air con
Air conditioning units and electric fans account for a whopping 10% of global electricity consumption. Due to rising temperatures, the global stock of air conditioners is projected to rise from 1.6 billion to 5.6 billion by 2050. Air con leaks gases known as hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants (HFCs) – a major contributor to global warming. That’s why, even if your electricity is from 100% renewable sources, it’s still better not to buy aircon as the units will contribute to heating up the planet further.
Beat the heat at home
You can do lots of planet-friendly things to keep the temperature of your home bearable. Don’t be tempted to throw open your windows. During the heat of the day, keep them shut and close the curtains – especially if they’re south-facing. Black-out curtain linings or blinds are even better at keeping the hot air out. You can open windows and air your home in the evening, after the sun’s gone down.
Insulation doesn’t just trap in heat in winter. It keeps it out in summer. To make your home as energy efficient as possible throughout the year, it’s worth insulating your walls and roof, if you can. And switch off all appliances when you’re not using them. They’re just costing you extra money and generating unnecessary heat.
Keep as much shade over your windows to limit solar gain. Automated awnings or wooden shutters for windows are a more permanent solution to sails but obviously cost a lot more to install.
Freeze your PJs
Sleeping during a heatwave can be tricky. Try to avoid heavy meals and excess alcohol. You can also pop your pyjamas in the freezer half an hour before bed. Taking a lukewarm shower before bed should also help you drift off. You can even fill a hot water bottle and then freeze it, although make sure to put it in its cover or wrap it in a towel before snuggling up to it.
Keep cool and carry on cutting carbon
When it’s blistering hot, you don’t need to resort to expensive and environmentally detrimental aircon. There are lots of cheaper and more creative ways to cool down. As the Met Office is going to be issuing more and more red warnings for extreme heat over the years to come, these tips are going to become essential to getting through the summer. But so is cutting carbon pollution because the more greenhouse gases we emit, the hotter the planet will become. Hence, it’s time for rapid far-reaching action on climate change.
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