December 7, 2021

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13 tips for staying cool in a heatwave

Photo credit: Chattrawutt - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chattrawutt – Getty Images

From Netdoctor

The UK’s heatwave continues with temperatures soaring to a sweltering 32.6 degrees in London yesterday, making it the hottest day of the year so far. So if you’re wondering how to cool down in these temperatures, you’re not alone. A level three heat-health alert has been set for parts of England, with advice to take extra care in the sun. Unsurprisingly, the warm weather has seen people around the country flocking to the beaches to cool off. But for those who can’t cool off with a dip, you may find yourself struggling with the intense heat and humidity. Our essential tips will help you avoid overheating. Here’s tips on how to cool down:

1. Chill your pillow

To sleep comfortably on a sweltering night, bag your sheets and chill in your freezer during the day. Choose thin cotton sheets that don’t retain heat, rather than a duvet.

Freeze a small pillow and a dampened tea towel for an hour before you go to bed. Use the tea towel as a cold compress on your neck or forehead.

Place an electric fan in front of your bed behind a shallow container filled with ice cubes. The ice will cool the air blowing over you and help evaporate sweat when temperatures soar.

2. Leave your hat on

Shading your face from the sun with a hat will make you feel cooler on a scorching day. Opt for wider brimmed styles and avoid black, which absorbs heat.

Loose woven straw hats are cool because they allow airflow around the scalp or invest in a cotton safari hat, which won’t disintegrate in a downpour.

3. Pull down the blinds

Invest in some light-coloured blinds and curtains because they keep rooms cooler than darker ones. You can also keep rooms cool by using shade or reflective material external to the glass.

Close the curtains to stop the sun coming in and open windows on the shady side of the house.

4. Try a cooling face mask

Cucumber is cooling and contains nutrients to keep your skin radiant and hydrated. Making your own natural cucumber face pack is easy. Try this:

  • Mash one peeled cucumber in a bowl with a teaspoon of sugar.

  • Add a spoon of yoghurt to rehydrate dry skin.

  • Chill in the fridge.

  • Apply to your face and leave on for 15 minutes before washing off with tepid water.

  • As well as cooling, this mask soothes puffy skin around your eyes.

5. Snack on frozen yoghurt

Invest in a frozen yoghurt maker for creamy but healthy summertime treats. There are many varieties of frozen yoghurt makers on the market, which fast-freeze yoghurt and sorbet ingredients to give you a fast and delicious treat without the fat and calories of ice-cream. Add strawberries or raspberries for a vitamin C boost.

Photo credit: diego_cervo - Getty Images
Photo credit: diego_cervo – Getty Images

6. Avoid hot foods

Eating hot foods may leave you feeling uncomfortable and raise your body temperature even further. Dishes like salads and pasta dishes that can be enjoyed cold are preferable. Similarly, spicy foods are best avoided when it is hot outside.

7. Make a brew

Sizzling temperatures can cause fluid retention, which raises body temperature. But sipping on a cuppa can actually cool you down. Brewing your own nettle or chamomile tea also boosts circulation, flushes excess fluids and helps you sleep.

‘It’s essential to drink plenty of water to counter dehydration during a heatwave,’ warns GP, Dr Sarah Jarvis.

8. Don’t overexercise

While it can be tempting to go for a walk or run when the weather is nice, exercising outdoors is not recommended in high temperatures.

If you must exercise outdoors, try to exercise early in the morning, before 8am. If possible, stay out of the sun during the hottest part of day between 11am and 3pm.

If you have to go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a hat.

9. Take cool showers and baths

No beach? No problem. Take regular cool showers or baths or splash yourself with cool water to cool off. Taking a cool shower before bed is a great way to bring your body temperature down before bed to make things more comfortable so you can sleep easier.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

10. Feel the breeze

Create a cross-breeze by opening doors as well as windows. ‘Don’t spend long periods of time sitting or working outside during the hottest time of the day,’ says Dr Jarvis. ‘Take a bottle of water when using public transport.’

11. Get misty

Cool-mist garden umbrellas provide plenty of shade and a constant refreshing curtain of fine mist. Connect your garden hose to one and switch on. Built-in nozzles provide an even mist around you. The supply hose feeds water through the umbrella’s central pole.

Try a portable mist to spritz on your face on the bus or at the office; it will fit into your handbag. Portable mist sprays are useful for keeping kids cool and overheated mums-to-be.

12. Don’t strip off

Wear light loose-fitting cotton skirts and tops to draw away moisture from your skin. If you do succumb to sunburn, aloe vera, peppermint and menthol-based lotions will soothe hot and bothered skin.

13. Make a home-made cooler

Two small water bottles make great hand coolers. Stick them in the fridge for a few hours and drink when you need some liquid refreshment.

Another trick is to freeze packs of peas and use these as cheap cooling packs for your body.

Get cold feet by rinsing your socks in cold water, then putting them on. This will lowers your overall body temperature despite the rising mercury.

Last medically reviewed: 25-06-2020

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