Staying cool in a heatwave

I’ve been reading lots over the last little while, on how to stay cool in the current heatwave. This is all the recommendations I have. I’ll follow this up with explanations of each suggestion in another post later — writing this has taken a lot out of me! Links are for example, buy what’s available and fits your needs 🙂

The UK is not set up for heat waves of up to 40c, thousands of people will die, we may have power and water outages.

Things to do immediately

Things to do the day before the heatwave

  • Turn your fridge and freezer up — make them colder
  • Freeze bottles of water (Separately from the immediate water stock!). Old fizzy drink bottles are fine. Squeeze them a little before putting the lid on, to give the water space to expand into
    • For one of the bottles, fill it halfway up, and store in the freezer so you can get to it. When you want a cold drink, just fill it a bit, and shake. Instant cold water!
  • If you have south-facing windows, prepare to cover them. A sheet, tin foil, paper.
  • Prepare foods ready to eat cold. Tuna mayo, egg mayo for sandwiches, salads, cold meats, cook some beans ready. Consider cooking a pasta bake or similar and putting it entirely into the fridge
  • At night, open your windows:
    • If you have a multiple level house, open windows/doors on one side of your house on the bottom floor, and on the top open the windows on the other side — so air will flow in a diagonal
    • If you’re in a flat or bungalow, open the windows/doors on opposite side of the house
  • Try to stay at home, or indoors. If your office has air con, I’m jealous. Avoid heavy activity during the day
  • Cover any south facing window with tin foil / paper / baking paper / cardboard / sheets. Do this on the outside if at all possible. If you do it on the inside, you might overheat your windows, and break them. Expensive bills later!

During the heatwave

peeling warning sign

DO NOTs

Do not do any of these things. They will harm you!

  • Drink Alcohol
  • Drink too much coffee (A little to prevent withdrawal is a good idea, but give energy drinks a miss)
  • Use “Air Conditioners” that don’t have an extract hose, that you have to fill with water. They use up the indoor air ability to absorb water — and sweating is the main way you lose heat when it’s too hot, so they make you hotter and make fans work less effectively. It’s safe to use them with a window open
  • Use air conditioners with an extract hose out a window without sealing your window with these kits. Yes they’re ugly, but without them you’re literally pulling hot air in from outside!
  • Heavy exercise — including manual work — especially during the peak in the afternoon, 1200 – 2000 (12pm to 8pm)
  • Avoid cooking using the oven, or hobs whilst windows are closed. If you have to, use the microwave
  • Avoid travelling if possible. Trains will be very slow, aircon may fail. Roads may melt
Green node of traffic light

DOs

  • An hour after sunrise, or as close as possible, close your windows
    • During the heatwave, check the temperature sensor against the weather app, or your weather station. When the indoor temperature is close to the outdoor temperature, go outside a second to see if it feels cooler outside (in the shade!) than inside. If so, open the windows as recommended above — in a diagonal, or opposite side of your dwelling
  • Drink lots of water. One or two electrolyte drinks a day in the absolute peak temperature
  • If indoor temp is below outdoor temp, keep the windows closed. Make sure to open them when it’s warmer
  • Consider pointing a fan out the window once it’s time to open the windows. Use a tissue or light cloth to work out which way the natural wind is blowing air, and point the fan in the direction to work with the wind, not against it
  • Wear light, airy clothes. If you can, stick to 100% cotton, which will wick your sweat and help it evaporate, keeping you cooler
  • Wear a hat if you go outside, and remember your sunscreen — even if it’s cloudy
  • If you have cats, put out a few bowls of water, spread around the building for them to drink from
  • If you have plants, water them before the temperature peak
  • Shower with a lukewarm shower. You want the water just a little cool to the touch. Too cold, and you’ll confuse your body, too hot, and you’ll just make it worse
  • Freeze a hot water bottle. Wrap it in a towel to cool down
  • Wrap an ice pack in a towel, and hold it between your upper thighs. You have arteries there, so will cool your entire body rapidly
  • Damp a towel and put it around your neck
  • Put your feet in a bucket or large bowl of water
  • Don’t use your fans feature to have it change direction it blows air into — oscillation. You want to set up a breeze of air around your room, that’ll effectively multiply how much air is moving without needing too many fans
  • Put a bowl of ice in front of a fan
  • Damp a sheet, or wet duvet cover before sleeping
  • You can set up a fan to blow *into* a duvet cover, effectively inflating it with a constant supply of fresh air. You can use clothes pegs attach it to the fan’s grills

Comment your own tips below!

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