Although warmer weather is usually welcome, it’s important to understand that too much heat can be a health hazard. In fact, last summer’s hot weather caused an additional 1,634 deaths, according to government data. And it isn’t just heat that’s the problem; humidity is a contributing factor too. With dry heat, sweat evaporates, taking heat away from the body. However, when humidity is higher, the air is already moist and sweat can’t evaporate as quickly, causing the body’s temperature to rise.
July already saw temperatures climb across the UK, so it’s wise to consider how best to cope with hot weather. Consider these tips:
- Stay cool. Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm and walk in the shade when venturing outside. If possible, seek comfort somewhere air-conditioned. Don’t forget, the more active you are, the more heat you generate; slow down to stay cool.
- Cool your home. Keep your home cool by closing curtains in rooms that face the sun and unplugging unnecessary electrical items. Utilise electric fans and consider placing a bowl of ice at an angle in front of your fan to cool the air further.
- Drink plenty. Dehydration due to excessive sweat is a big risk in hot weather, so drink plenty of water. Don’t wait to feel thirsty as this is a poor indicator of dehydration. Instead, sip water frequently and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Foods with high water content—such as strawberries, cucumber and melon—can also help you stay hydrated.
- Dress for the weather. Clothes can influence how your body handles heat. Light colours and loose garments allow air to get in; materials like cotton and linen are more breathable, absorbing sweat and encouraging ventilation.
- Keep an eye on the vulnerable. Although anyone can be at risk of heat illness, the elderly and infants are usually more vulnerable. Keep an eye on vulnerable neighbours and relatives. Additionally, don’t forget your pets—keep them indoors and avoid taking dogs for long walks, especially as pavements heat up.
- Watch for signs of heat illness. Heat stroke—when the body’s temperature reaches 40C—is dangerous. It can lead to loss of consciousness or even death. Be vigilant for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
For more hot weather tips, visit the NHS website.
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