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Staying Cool and Well During A Heatwave

Natasha Wharton

Natasha Wharton



Although warmer weather can be a welcome sight for many, the increased temperatures can lead to added risks for some, particularly those with health issues or those that are more vulnerable.

One of the best ways to look after yourself is by being prepared. So, pay regular attention to the
weather forecast and look out for any heatwave warnings during the summer months so that you
can plan ahead and take action if you need to.

Some of the risks that extreme heat poses include dehydration, overheating, heat exhaustion and
heatstroke. However, there are plenty of simple and easy ways that you can avoid these dangers,
making warm weather far more enjoyable and pleasant.

How to ensure your home stays cool

The most important way to keep yourself well, is to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day (between 11am and 3pm) and keep your home environment cool. Ensure that any windows exposed to direct sunlight are shaded or covered, and if possible use light, reflective linings to direct the heat away. During the cooler parts of the day, such as late evening or early morning, open windows and vents to allow for cool air to circulate and help prevent your home from overheating.

If you find that your bedroom is in a warmer part of your home, consider changing your sleeping
arrangements so that you are in a cooler room.

You can also reduce the generation of excess heat by ensuring that your central heating system has been switched off, as have any lights and electrical equipment that aren’t in use. If you are aware that a heatwave warning is due to come into force, check that your fridge, freezer and any fans that you own are working properly.

When an extended period of hot weather occurs, fans can often be in short supply so to avoid the
rush, purchase one ahead of time, ready for when (or if!) a heatwave does arrive.

On the move

If you do need to head out, whether on foot, by car or public transport, always ensure you have a
supply of water with you. Sometimes hot weather can disrupt transport systems resulting in travel
delays. You don’t want to put yourself in danger by becoming dehydrated so remember that water bottle.

As well as being painful, and increasing your risk of skin cancers, sunburn can increase your risk of
developing sunstroke. So, whenever you are out in the sun, ensure skin is covered. To protect
yourself without overheating, wear lightweight, loose fitting cotton clothes and a wide brimmed hat. Don’t forget to apply a broad-spectrum sunblock with UVA and UVB with a minimum SPF of 15. Get to know your skin and if you are fair skinned or particularly prone to catching the sun, always use a high factor.

A mini misting fan is another fantastic way to help keep your cool by combining a refreshing mist of water with a pleasant breeze. If it’s looking like a hot day, make sure you don’t leave home without it.

Looking after yourself

As we discussed earlier, keeping hydrated is crucial. Water is ideal; however, other good options
include low fat milks, tea and coffee. Juices and cordials can also help but be aware of the sugar

Another great way to top up your fluids is by increasing the amount of salads and fruit in your diet. Consider switching to cold meals during a heatwave with plenty of foods with a high-water content such as cucumber, celery, melon and strawberries.

One really simple, yet healthy summer snack is frozen cubes of watermelon. It’s tasty, refreshing and helps keep your fluid levels at their optimum level, as well as being an alternative to ice cream and ice lollies.

As well as staying hydrated, you also need ensure you maintain balanced levels of electrolytes,
which you lose through sweat. Although water can keep you hydrated, it doesn’t replace lost salts. To do this make sure you maintain a balanced diet. Oral rehydration salts can also help, particularly if you have trouble regulating your electrolytes.

Certain conditions, such as heart or respiratory issues, can make you more vulnerable due to the
increased strain on your body. If you have any concerns about the impact the heat could have on
your health, be sure to speak to a doctor or nurse for tailored advice.

You may also want to check how best to keep medications during heatwave conditions – ideally,
they should be stored below 25c or in the fridge. Again, if you have any concerns, consult a medical professional.

Other handy hints and tips

Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the fridge – when you’re in need of a refresh, simply
spritz and enjoy the cooling effect

Don’t forget to protect your eyes with sunglasses. If you regularly wear spectacles, speak to an
optician about prescription sunglasses or special shades that fit over your ordinary prescription

The increased heat can have a drying effect on your skin so look after it by applying moisturiser
Refresh and help your body to lower its core temperature by taking regular cool showers or baths

Take a cool towel or wash cloths in a cool bag with an ice pack when going out so you can cool down
in a hurry

There are a range of products available to help during heatwaves, including cooling clothes such as
vests and hoodies, which work by soaking up water and then slowly releasing it over a number of
hours. For cool and comfortable nights, look at cooling pillows and large cool gel packs which can
cover large areas of the body, keeping you cool for hours.

Don’t forget to check on your neighbours, if you can, to make sure that they are ok and are
managing in the heat. If you’re a McCarthy & Stone resident and have any concerns during a
heatwave, then speak to your estate or house manager and they will be happy to help.

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