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Friday is set to be a scorcher in some parts of the UK, with possible highs of 34 to 37 degrees Celsius in southeast England. Saturday will also be hot in south and central parts of the UK.
The Met Office has issued a heat health alert for parts of England and said UV levels will be high in some areas.
If you’re one of those people who groans as soon as the word ‘heatwave’ is uttered, here are some helpful tips and tricks for keeping your cool on what could be the hottest day of the year so far.
1. Grab a sponge and get dabbing
No, not *that* kind of dabbing.
Apply tap water to your chest, arms, back, legs and face with a sponge in heatwave conditions to help keep cool. That’s according to a 2019 study from the University of Sydney – so it’s pretty legit. Immersing feet in water above your ankles was also found to be beneficial, the study found.
The study’s results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found applying water to these areas of the body improved comfort during a heatwave, in addition to lowering cardiovascular strain and reducing the rate of dehydration. Winning.
Senior author and associate professor Ollie Jay, from the faculty of health sciences, said: “Usually people are just told to drink water, but our findings show that the extra evaporative heat loss you can get from also applying water across the body with a sponge can make a difference.”
If you’re not up for sponging yourself down, run the cold tap on your wrists every now and then to cool down.
2. Shut your curtains and blinds
If the sun shines directly into your home, close your curtains to try and keep rooms as cool as possible on the hottest days of the year.
“If your house does experience more sunlight throughout the day, it’s recommended you keep your curtains, shutters and blinds shut to stop the sunlight from beaming into your home,” says Lucy Askew, a spokesperson for Hillarys blinds. “This will keep things marginally cooler and slightly more bearable during heatwaves.”
It’s also worth remembering that it may be cooler outdoors than indoors. If that’s the case, head outdoors to keep cool, sticking to shady spots (under trees, parasols, etc) and respecting social distancing if you’re in a public place.
3. Don’t forget to drink
One of the key risks posed by a heatwave is dehydration from not drinking enough water. If you’re not great at remembering to drink throughout the day, keep a jug of water nearby so you can keep topping your glass up.
Avoid drinking excess alcohol if you can, as this will only fuel dehydration.
4. Have a brew (or two)
It might sound counterintuitive, but drinking a hot drink increases the body’s heat load and makes us sweat. The output of this is that when the sweat evaporates from the skin, it cools us down.
But, one caveat is if you’re drinking a hot drink in an environment where the sweat won’t evaporate – for example, if it’s really, really humid – that hot drink might not do the trick.
Interestingly, iced water and iced drinks don’t help that much, as the body overcompensates to warm the liquid to body temperature. So if it’s pretty humid, room temperature water is best.
5. Mind what you eat
Biochemist Shirley Corriher has previously spoken about the foods that work best – and the ones that don’t – to keep people cool. In 2012, she said fruits and vegetables are good in hot climates as they’re packed with water, Inside Science reported. So, cucumber, melon and celery are your friends.
Spicy foods can also help, as they contain compounds called capsaicin, which can make you sweat and therefore cools you down.
Corriher noted that foods high in fat and protein – which includes ice cream – are not great to keep you cool as your body has to work harder to digest them. “It cools you when you eat it, but alas, it doesn’t last,” she said.
6. Position your fan wisely
If you’re working in a room with a fan, position it near to where you’re sitting so it blows straight onto you, keeping your body cool. At night you might want to open a window and put the fan in front of the open window, facing inwards, to propel the cool air into your room.
7. Put your sheets in the fridge or freezer
There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep when your bedroom is a furnace. One life hack many swear by is to pop a bed sheet into a plastic bag, then put it in the fridge or freezer during the day. Take it out just before you get into bed and enjoy a cool start to the evening.
Age UK suggests using light-coloured, lightweight cotton sheets to keep you cooler at night – but also, if you have a spare sheet, it’s a good idea to wet it and hang it in front of an open window so the breeze blows through it and helps bring down the room’s temperature.
8. Freeze your hot water bottle
Yes, really. Fill it with cold water and put in the freezer for an hour or so before bed. Pop under your sheets just before you go to sleep to help cool everything down.