UK heatwave: Five ways to stay cool and safe | Health

With much of the UK currently in an official heatwave and the Met Office warning it could stay hot and humid into the weekend, let’s take a look at how to stay cool and safe at home.

Stay indoors

The temperature reached 32°C (89.6°F) in Kew Gardens over the weekend, making the south-west London region hotter than the French Riviera. During the week, daytime temperatures reached highs of over 20 degrees for many people, beating the three-day limit for an official heatwave declaration set by the Met Office.

With temperatures soaring, health advice is to stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day, usually between 11am and 3pm. If you must be outside, dress in light, loose-fitting clothing, wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, and stay in the shade as much as possible. If you exercise or walk the dog, try to do so in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the best time to exercise is early in the morning between 4am and 7am. When traveling, do not leave children or pets unattended in the car.

Keep your home cool

High temperatures can make you uncomfortable when you work during the day and sleep at night. You can help keep your home cool by closing and reopening windows and curtains in rooms that face the sun at night. If possible, stay in the coolest room in the house, especially for sleeping at night. You can hang wet towels to cool the air in the room, but this will increase humidity as the water evaporates. If keeping your home cool is impossible, the WHO recommends spending two to three hours a day in a cool, air-conditioned public building.

Keep yourself adequately hydrated

The heat makes you sweat more, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of liquids, even if you don’t feel thirsty, but avoid alcohol or drinks that contain a lot of caffeine or sugar. Remember that alcohol is a diuretic and can make you urinate more, but it can also cause you to sweat more, which means you lose even more important body fluid. Be especially careful if you are already ill and may be dehydrated, for example due to diarrhea or vomiting.

In addition to drinking, a cool shower or bath will help keep the body cool during a heat wave. Cold packs, towels, sponges, and foot baths can also help wick excess heat away from the body.

Think of others

You may have been keeping the heat at bay in your own home, but look out for friends, family and others who may be more vulnerable and less able to escape the heat. And if you’re at greater risk of heat-related health problems yourself, ask others for help if you need it.

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