The sun has got his wide-brimmed hat on, and his factor 50 in his pocket.
For the first time in years the UK is experiencing a proper Summer. The type of weather we crave throughout Autumn and Winter, and the main reason we book Holidays abroad. The fact that it is now hotter here than anywhere else in Europe should be celebrated and enjoyed. However, we are not all prepared or acclimatised to these periods of prolonged heat and so many of us seem to be struggling.
- The first use of the term “heatwave” for a prolonged period of hot weather was in New York in 1892
- A human’s natural comfort zone is between 22-25 degrees centigrade
- The best time to stay out of the sun is between 11am and 3pm when it is at it’s hottest
- The heat wave that occurred in July 1995 was among the most devastating on record
- Standard car windows block out 97% of UVB rays whilst UVA rays are only blocked out by 37%. This means you can go on a long car journey and still get sun burned even by sitting in the car
How to prepare in advance
Extreme heat can lead to extreme tiredness so it’s a good idea to get ready for hot days in advance.
Keep an eye on the local weather forecast, listening for the temperature outdoors but also the Pollen Count, UV Index and Heat Index – which is the air temperature combined with the relative humidity, which is the heat the human body will feel.
Be aware that high temperatures can aggravate other medical conditions and illnesses. If you suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease or are pregnant – take extra precautions.
Planning for a long road trip
With it being the school holidays, many of us are planning long distance journeys to our holiday destinations. Change over days for holiday parks and seaside resorts tend to fall on the same days, therefore traffic can build up and journey times may take a lot longer than anticipated. Always take time to plan ahead to ensure a smoother and less stressful drive.
Stay tuned to local radio stations and reports on traffic queues or heat increases.
Dress in light layers, and have bottled water available.
In long-standing traffic – turn off you car engine to avoid overheating.
Make sure you check your oil and water levels before setting off, and leave in plenty of time.
If the heat in the car makes you drowsy then take a break in the nearest service station or safe place to stop.
When driving, be aware of sun glare through the windscreen. Consider a pair of anti-glare sunglasses and sun shades on the back windows for the kids.
Your health in the heat
Water is essential for hydration and for keeping our bodies functioning well. In the Summer our bodies lose a lot of water through sweating, drying out in air conditioning and cooking ourselves under the sun. It’s no wonder that we need to consume more during this time to keep our bodies happy.
It’s recommended that we try to drink even when not thirsty, taking small frequent sips of water or still drinks. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol as these are likely to speed up dehydration which can be serious or fatal.
Be aware of the signs of dehydration which include; dry mouth, dry lips, dizziness, lightheaded, passing urine less and sunken eyes.
Recognise and Respond
Being able to recognise and respond in the correct way to heat-related illnesses could save a life.
- Heat Cramps – This is pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs. If this happens then find a cooler location, remove excess clothing, and take small sips of a sports drink. If after 1 hour the issue persists then call 111 and seek medical advice.
- Heat Exhaustion – Heavy sweating, pale in complexion, cramps, feeling tired and weak, dizzy, nauseous, vomiting or fainting. If possible find an air-conditioned location, lie down, remove excess clothing, take a cool bath if you can and take sips of a sports drink for re-hydration. If the issue persists then call 111 and seek medical advice.
- Heat Stroke – Symptoms include; extremely high body temperature 103+, red colouration, hot to the touch, dry skin, no sweating, rapid breathes, strong pulse. Dizziness, confusion or falling unconscious. Call 111 as soon as you can or visit the nearest A & E.
The dreaded sunburn
It’s never cool to get burnt. As much as many people believe the old ‘it will fade to tan’ story – this isn’t the case. Instead, we burn to a crisp, resembling a cooked lobster, waddling and wincing every step we take for the following week. Then we have to put up with the peeling skin and flaking like dandruff. It’s gross and it can and should be avoided at all costs. It’s not healthy! The skin is an organ, and it is really important to take care of it.
If you get home from a day at the beach and find yourself glowing pink in the mirror then take a long cool shower as soon as you can. You need to bring the temperature in your body down to stop it from continuing to cook.
Apply after sun lotion or aloe vera if you have it. Even better still – keep it refridgerated.
Water, water and more water. Drinking fluids will help you stay hydrated.
If you are in pain, take some pain relief. Always carefully read the instructions on the pack.
Leave blisters alone!
If severe – seek medical assistance or call 111 for more advice.
Ways to stay cool
If it gets too hot for you outside then take shelter inside. Some rooms in the house that don’t see much sun during the day will be the coolest and the most appreciated in the high heat. There are tips and tricks to maximising the coolness and I have listed some below.
- Try using fans in the loft to clear the hot air
- Use drapes or shades over windows where direct sunlight comes through
- Close bedroom blinds or curtains before the heat rise’s in the afternoon. Keep it cool for bedtime
- Freeze your breeze by putting a bowl of ice in front of your blowing fan
- Sleep downstairs. Heat rises as we all know so the evenings will be cooler on lower levels
- Rinse your wrists and feet under cold water before bed to bring the body temperature down to aid sleeping
- Store after sun lotion and moisturisers in the fridge
- Use mist sprays for your face, small animals, or babies sheets
Babies and the Elderly
During those days where we just can’t seem to get comfortable, remember to be doubly aware of those that are more vulnerable in high temps. Our elders may have seen it all before, but older bodies are often unable to adjust to sudden temperature changes. This can result in signs of heat stroke and exhaustion. Make sure your elders have access to a shaded area, are drinking plenty of fluids and wear light coloured, lightweight clothing.
Investing in a UV protective Umbrella would be beneficial as they can carry their own shade with them whilst also protecting their skin from the UV rays.
As a parent, it can be incredibly stressful trying to make sure your child isn’t too hot or too cold. This can be even more worrying when you have a young baby as they are unable to tell you how they are feeling or what they need. We can normally figure it out from the crying or colour in their face, but figuring out what the best remedy is, and if it’s the right thing to do is a whole other ball game.
Help a parent out!
- Check babies tummy for temperature. If it is warm/hot then take off a layer
- Remember the ‘Cotton is Cool’ rule when dressing baby for the Sunshine
- Never cover your babies pram with a blanket! If absolutely necessary – purchase a pram sun parasol from a certified retailer.
- Keep babies fluid levels up. Use a cool damp cloth handy to dab on the forehead or to be sucked on.
- Position young babies in shaded areas at every opportunity. Never in direct sunlight.
- Use baby safe sun blocks and sun hats. Refrain from using socks and shoes if possible.
- If the car seat or pram is too hot then rinse a muslin cloth under cool water and lay baby on top.
- Cool baby off in a lukewarm temperature bath before bedtime routine begins.
- Buy a cooling mist to carry in your changing bag, they are so refreshing and you and baby will both appreciate it.
Our furry friends
It’s not just us humans that need to keep on top of our sun safety, animals need protecting too.
It has been highly publicised in recent times about the sheer amount of pet owners that are carelessly leaving their pets in cars whilst parked up in the sunshine. This is gobsmacking to most of us – but believe me, these people exist and they don’t believe what they are doing is wrong or they just don’t care.
Rule number 1 – Never leave animals locked in hot cars, conservatories, out-buildings, caravans etc. Where they have no access to ventilation, fresh air or shade.
Our pet’s need:
Shade, fresh water (add ice cubes to keep it cool and last longer). A pool to splash in for cooling off, damp towels to lie on, and walks only when the pavement is cool. Check for flystrike and treat if necessary to avoid irritation.
As I sit and write this blog post it is raining outside – typically. However, these hot summers are due to continue. It is down to climate change that our weather is getting more extreme at both ends of the spectrum. Rather than moan about it, I choose to adapt to it. No need to save for a retirement in the South of France anymore, we live in a hot country now!
“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much colour.”
―Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting