NHS Tips for Coping with a Heatwave

Stay Cool in Extreme Heat with these 6 Tips

As Britain gets hotter, it’s becoming more and more important to take special care of our health. In light of the 40 degree red warning forecast on the horizon, we thought we’d share some top tips from medical professionals to help you cope with scorching temperatures.

1. Hydrate

Although it’s important to drink 6-8 cups of fluid (according to the NHS) a day on a regular day, it’s even more important to replenish your lost water content during a heatwave. There’s an easy way to tell whether you’ve drunk enough. If your urine is a pale yellow colour, that’s a good indication that you’re keeping hydrated.

Avoid alcohol in excess, and if you are drinking alcohol, make sure you balance it with enough water and soft drinks. Alcohol makes you sweat more, meaning you’ll likely lose more water. It also makes you want to use the loo more, meaning you’ll lose more water this way too.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Dark yellow urine
  • Headaches 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Infrequent peeing (less than 4 times a day)

Dehydration can be fatal, so make sure you bring a bottle of water out and about with you if you are leaving your home.

You can find out more information about dehydration from the NHS’ Official Guidance Page 

2. Stick to the Shade

Keep out of direct sunlight, particularly during the hours of 11-3pm as this is when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest.

You can make rooms cooler by closing curtains in rooms which face direct sunlight. As homes in the UK don’t tend to come with built-in AC, this is an easy hack to create a home cooling system. At night, make sure to open your windows, when the temperature drops, to let in a gust of refreshing air.

If you are going out in the sun, wearing a brimmed hat (like a baseball hat or a bucket hat) will provide some sun protection, however, it’s also important to regularly lather on sunscreen throughout the day. This will stop those UV rays from damaging your skin.

3. Exercise Safely

Experts recommend taking it easy in hot weather. Avoid exacerbating the extra strain the heatwave will put on your body to avoid health issues. You might find yourself with heatstroke, which is a life-threatening condition.

If exercising, listen to your body’s signs of exhaustion. If you feel fatigued, dizzy, irritable or are excessively sweating, this is a cue to stop and recharge. Lower your body temperature immediately to prevent any serious injuries.

If you do want to exercise, try low-impact exercises and incorporate plenty of breaks. Make sure you don’t exercise alone, so someone can help you if you find yourself unable to cope with the heat.

4. Look after Vulnerable People

Check on those more susceptible to heat-related issues and conditions. For those with extra mobility needs, you may want to make sure that they have easy access to water and other sources of hydration.

If you have young children, be sure to supervise their intake of fluids and take note of any signs of dehydration as listed above.

It’s extremely important not to leave anyone in a closed vehicle, especially infants and pets.

5. Keep Heat to a Minimum within Your Home

Some top tips to make stuffy British houses more bearable:

Switch off heavy duty appliances – Washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and other appliances generate extra heat. Switch to hand-drying your dishes and using a drying rack to prevent your kitchen from becoming a sauna. Even tech such as computers and phone chargers can become quite hot if left on all day. 

In a heatwave, you probably want to avoid sweating over an oven or hob. Opt for an easy dinner, such as a salad or a pre-prepared meal to conserve your much-needed energy.

Keep lights off – Some light bulbs are hotter than others, so if you can, switching to LED bulbs will reduce any heat being emitted from. If you have incandescent lights, make sure to switch these off to avoid any excess heat in your living areas. 

Use ice packs – Just as hot water bottles can be used as a heat source in the winter, its frosty cousin the ice pack can be your best friend during a heatwave. Use ice packs to cool down your sofas or beds. You could also use damp flannels to keep on your forehead. Take advantage of the fact that we lose heat from our head, hands and feet. You can use this handy biological fact to cool yourself down.

Keep away from others – This is pretty much common sense. More bodies mean more heat and more chance of becoming dehydrated. Avoid crowds and stick solo. If you’re staying at home this is done easily enough, however, If you need to travel on public transport, try to travel at quieter times and bring some water and a handheld fan with you if you have one. The new Elizabeth Line is air-conditioned, however, other trains are still as stifling as ever unfortunately.

6. How to Sleep in a heatwave

As mentioned above, keeping windows open at night will ventilate your room, however, if you want to go the extra mile and ensure a comfortable night’s sleep, you could freeze your sheets or sleep under very slightly damp sheets. As you sleep, the water in the sheets will evaporate, so you won’t catch a cold!

For a burst of refreshment throughout the night, fill a spray bottle with ice-cool water and keep it on your bedside table, ready for a refreshing mist of cold water. It’s almost as satisfying as taking a dip in a pool!

The heatwave is being declared as a national emergency, with this in mind, it’s important to take these warnings seriously. Hot weather can cause illness and death if precautions are ignored.

These are just some tips to help you stay safe and comfortable 

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Before you leave, take 5 mins and reflect on what you’ve learnt from this

  • What are some signs of dehydration
  • How can you cool down your living spaces?

  • What guidance should you stick to if you are out and about during a heatwave?

Make a note of these reflections to help you on your journey towards your future.

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