Although most of us love the idea of a hot summer, are you ready for a heatwave? The UK is now bracing itself for the hottest day on record, and if you’re not prepared for such extreme temperatures, you could be vulnerable to heat exhaustion.
Knowing the warning signs is essential, and you should seek shade and cool off immediately if you have any of the following symptoms: headaches, dizziness, nausea, excessive sweating, cramps, fast breathing, and intense thirst.
Anyone can be adversely affected by a heatwave, but the NHS advise the following people are most at risk:
- Those aged over 75 (Just out of interest the radio this morning said over 65)
- Babies and young children
- Those with a serious long-term condition, especially heart or breathing problems
- Those with mobility problems – e.g. people with Parkinson’s disease or who have had a stroke
- Those with serious mental health problems
- Those on medication affecting sweating and temperature control
- Those who misuse alcohol or drugs
- Those who are physically active – e.g. labourers or those doing sports
Here are our top tips for keeping cool, and reducing the risk of heat exhaustion!
Hot Weather Food and Drink
- As the heat makes us produce more sweat, it’s especially important to replenish our water levels. Surprisingly, according to the NHS, the best way to check your hydration levels is by the colour of your urine rather than thirst. The darker the colour, the more dehydrated you are and vice versa.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, they are diuretics and make you produce more urine, increasing dehydration. In addition, avoid heavy meals containing a lot of carbs or protein as they take time to digest, and in turn increase your body temperature.
- Stick to drinking water and eat foods that contain a lot of water, such fruit and salad items.
Exercise and Activity Levels
- If the temperature is a lot higher than you are used to, stick to lower intensity activities, and monitor how your body acclimatises.
- This is especially true if you are on holiday, as not only is the temperature level a factor, but also the humidity, which is often higher in the more popular destinations, which significantly reduces your ability to cool down by sweating
- If you’re experiencing high temperatures, its best to avoid the midday sun and try to travel around earlier or later in the day when temperatures are cooler.
- If you do decide to exercise in hot weather, opt for a drink that contains electrolytes, such as isotonic sports drinks, to ensure you are rehydrating properly. Important minerals are lost with excessive sweating during extreme temperature, which can be restored with these drinks
Hot Weather Clothing
When the extreme temperatures of summer roll in, the last thing you want to think about is what you’re going to wear, especially when your main objective is just trying to keep cool.
Yet it’s easy to underestimate how much of a difference clothes make to reducing our body temperature.
- Hence, avoid the temptation to expose too much skin, as this will greatly increase your chances of sunburn, and burnt skin can raise your body temperature making it harder to keep cool.
- Loose clothing is best as it will allow air to flow through and light colours can reflect more light – remember dark colours absorb heat.
- Choosing the correct fabric is also key. Cotton and linen effectively absorb sweat and promote ventilation.
Sunscreen and sun safety
Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer and does not just happen on holiday. You can burn in the UK, even when it’s cloudy.
There’s no safe or healthy way to get a tan. A tan does not protect your skin from the sun’s harmful effects, it is just the body’s reaction to the harmful UV rays.
Aim to strike a balance between protecting yourself from the sun and getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.
Click HERE to read the full comprehensive guide to sunscreen and sun safety from the NHS.
We hope you found this guide helpful!