This is a collaborative post.
The UK is experiencing unprecedented weather patterns this summer, with man-made climate change earmarked as the cause for sweltering heatwaves that have swept the Mediterranean and western Europe. The UK has already experienced record highs of over 40 degrees Celsius, but more is yet to come – and the change seems very much to be here to stay. Climate change is happening already.
Naturally, this change is unfamiliar to the vast majority of households across the UK – leading to higher risks of medical emergencies in relation to the heat. What are some of the key ways you can keep yourself cool, safe and healthy throughout the warmer days of a UK heatwave?
Keeping Your Home Cool
Contrary to conventional wisdom, opening your windows during a heatwave is not an effective way to keep your home cool. Instead, you are inviting the ingress of warmer air, guaranteeing a stuffy, humid home of equivalent temperature to outdoors.
You should keep all doors and windows shut, and close your curtains or blinds as well. This blocks the harsh sunlight, and provides crucial shade. Only open your windows when the sun is setting; this will allow hotter air from inside to escape, and let you regulate your home’s temperature with cooler evening air.
Working in Heat
Heatwaves can make public transport a much more dangerous form of travel – not to mention less reliable. If the option is available, workers reliant on public transport should work from home where possible. If you own a car, you may be able to commute safely with thanks to your car’s air conditioning; taking your car for an air con service before the next heatwave will ensure it doesn’t fail at the worst possible time. For some, the commute may be worthwhile on foot or by bicycle. This is only true if your office has air conditioning, though.
Sleeping in Heat
With the unique heatwaves experienced this summer, even the cooler evening temperatures can be uncomfortably warm when it comes to sleeping. There are a few ways you can make yourself more comfortable, but it is important that you stick to your regular sleeping routine in doing so. This can promote better sleep by virtue of your body’s natural rhythms.
Thin sheets and refrigerated socks are good choices for keeping cool and comfortable, but you should also make sure to drink plenty of water before bed – and if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Which neatly brings us on to hydration – one of the most important parts of staying safe in the summer heatwaves. Excess heat results in the loss of liquids through sweat, which itself evaporates at high enough temperatures. As such, your body uses far more water than at more comfortable temperatures.
With this in mind, you should be actively drinking more water in warmer weather. This may seem an obvious suggestion, but it is an easy one to overlook – especially if much of your daily intake comes from caffeinated drinks, which are ineffective at hydration in warmer weather. A good rule of thumb is to drink twice as much water as you would usually, to ensure you are well-hydrated and safe.