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Keeping cool in a heatwave

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You never know what a British summer will bring. We may have a glorious heat wave or be drenched by constant rain - in Britain summer can go either way! At the moment (and unlike British summers) we are experiencing a heatwave!

Although some of us will be able to soak up some rays and top up the tan, the summer months and heatwaves can be uncomfortable for some. Even if you're putting your shades on and enjoying the sun, you need to stay safe and healthy. Here are some top tips to help stay cool:

Keeping cool

  • Try to keep out of the heat when you can - 11am-3pm are the hottest parts of the day.
  • Putting cold water over your wrists for a few seconds can help cool your body temperature down. Alternatively, put your feet in a bowl of cold water.
  • Wear loose & light coloured clothing - dark clothes will retain heat where as light colours will reflect it.

Out and about

  • Avoid unnecessary travel.
  • Wear a hat to help keep your head cool.
  • Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Make sure you apply sunscreen. Even if the sun is not out, the suns rays can still affect your skin. Not applying sunscreen can lead to you getting sun burn and in some cases, skin cancer. Apply sunscreen generously which has a factor of at least 15. Keep re-applying the sunscreen every 2-3 hours.
  • Make sure you keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight and apply sunscreen generously.

To find out more about sunburn and how to help prevent it, check out the following guide from NHS Direct

At home

  • Open your windows at night to let out heat that has built up in your home and let in lovely cool air!
  • Keep curtains closed in the day to block out the sun’s home-warming rays. Open them up at night when the temperature has cooled down.
  • Struggling to sleep at night? Try cooling a pillow in the fridge or freezer for an hour or two before going to bed.
  • Try sleeping downstairs - Heat rises, so the lowest parts of your home will be the coolest.
  • Use a ‘cold’ water bottle - Fill a traditional hot water bottle with cold water and place it by your ankles to cool down.
  • Turn off unused appliances in your home - Leaving appliances such as a television tuned on builds up heat in your home. Turning these off will also save you money on your electricity bills.
  • Avoid using appliances such as ovens and dryers during the day because they will heat your home.

Eating and Drinking

  • Keeping drinking water - Water will help your body feel cooler and will help you stay hydrated.
  • Put ice-cubes in your drink and keep filling your ice-cube tray so you don't run out!
  • Stock up on Ice lollies! It’s a perfect time to give in to any of your children’s request for more iced treats.
  • Avoid body-warming hot food - Try to eat more ‘cold’ food such as fruit or salads.
  • Try to avoid eating big meals. Your body uses energy to digest the food which causes your body temperature to go up.
  • Try to add mint to your food or drink. Mint contains Menthol which can help cool you down.

Check your neighbours

  • Elderly neighbours may feel the affects of the heat even more. If you have an elderly neighbour, check up on them to see if they are ok and if there is any help they need.

Extra tips

  • Use a paddling pool - they are a great way to help the kids stay cool in the summer.
  • Going out and about? Take a cool bottle of water - try to keep a bottle of water ready in the fridge at all times.
  • If you stay in the sun for too long and don’t keep hydrated, you could suffer from dehydration, heat exhaustion or sunstroke.


With a prolonged period of heat, staying in the heat can affect your health and you could be expose to heatstroke.

You may find that someone with heatstroke could have a headache, pale skin, a high temperature or dizziness. If you or a friend or relative are showing these signs, you will need to get to a cool place immediately, drink plenty of water and call 999 immediately.

To find out more about the causes and signs of heatstroke, visit the NHS website

Further health support

Heatwaves can also affect people with respiratory or heart problems. If you’re worried that you or someone you know are affected by a heat related problem, firstly make sure you or they are in shade or a cool area and drinking plenty of water. You can find out more from NHS Direct or in an emergency call 999.

Have you got a "keeping cool in the summer" tip you can share with us? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.