Protecting Yourself In A Heatwave

Young man pouring water during heatwave

When we start entering June, July and August the heat of Summer is a welcome arrival after long, cold, wet winter months.  But with rising temperatures come heatwaves that can prove uncomfortable, and even dangerous, for many people.  So whether you’re enjoying a staycation in Britain or travelling abroad to seek out the sun, knowing how to keep yourself and your family protected from the heat makes for a much more enjoyable summer.

What is a heatwave?

A heatwave is defined as three or more consecutive days of extremely high temperatures during both day and night. This by itself does not seem like a dangerous weather occurrence, but taking a heatwave lightly can have a serious effect on your health and cause:

  • Extreme dehydration
  • Heat stroke
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain

Who is at risk from a heatwave?

One of the most important things to be aware of when it comes to a heatwave is that it can affect anyone. Saying that, certain people are more at risk that others when temperatures start to soar. Those who should be especially careful include:

  • Children under the age of 5
  • Older people over the age of 65
  • People with breathing problems
  • People with heart problems
  • People with mobility problems (unable to escape the sun easily)
  • People who work in a physically active environment (labourers, athletes etc.)
  • People who misuse drugs or alcohol

Getting prepared when temperatures soar

In the run up to a heatwave, it is important to keep an eye on the weather forecast to stay up to date with the latest temperatures. These forecasts provide an essential overview of when temperatures will be at their highest and when you should take shelter.

You should also be aware of the heat index. This is the temperature your body feels as a combination of heat and humidity combined. If you do not take heat index into account, you could be exposed to a heatwave despite the temperature seeming relatively mild on a forecast.

If you have air conditioning, make sure it is serviced before the heatwave hits. If you do not have air conditioning, make sure there is a place in your home that is well ventilated and will stay cool during the heat of the day. Taking advantage of public areas that do have air conditioning (e.g. shopping centres, cinema’s and libraries) will also let you take respite from the heat

Keeping Your Cool In A Heatwave

One of the best ways to cope with extreme temperatures is to avoid going outside during the hottest times of the day. This is usually between 11am and 3pm.

If you do go outside, make sure you stay hydrated as dehydration is one of the most common problems people face during a heatwave. Water is lost through sweating and if not replenished it can lead to headaches, nausea and possible heat stroke. Make sure you have plenty of bottles of water, diluted fruit juice and other hydrating drinks on you. Try to avoid diuretics such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks and drinks high in sugar.

Stay cool by wearing loose, light clothing that allows the heat to escape from your body. Try to stick to cotton  or linen t-shirts or dresses, and dress as you would if you were going to the beach.  Avoid dark colours which absorb the heat, and instead opt for white or light summery shades to reflect the Sun’s radiation. Wearing a light hat will also help to keep the sun off your head.

If you decide to stay at home, there are a few ways you can keep yourself and your house cool. Ventilation plays a big part in dealing with a heat, so open your windows when it is cooler and close them when its warmer. You should also close the curtains in your room to keep excess sunlight out.

Another good way of cooling down is to take regular, cool to lukewarm showers. You can also splash your face, wrists, and the back of your neck with cool water regularly throughout the day to help combat any high humidity you may be experiencing.  For a quick cool down try dunking your feet in a bucket of cool water to bring your temperature down.

Sleeping is notoriously difficult during heat waves, but there are a few simple tricks that can help. Hot air rises so either head downstairs for the night or move your bedding onto the floor where you’ll find the air is cooler. Keep your bedroom curtains and blinds shut during the day to prevent your room from overheating. Lightly mist your bed with moisture to cool your body down, and avoid alcoholic drinks before bed which leads to a bad nights sleep.

If you’re heading away on your Summer holidays Active Health Clinics offer personal training sessions and a range of beauty treatments to get you ready to hit the beach in style. Please feel free to contact us on 01628 626565 for more information.