My top 10 tips to stay cool during a heatwave

This post is not the usual entry for this blog, but since it is about public health, I thought I would post it.

Having lived in the UK for many years, and suffered some heat waves in this beautiful country, I find very frustrating the scarcity of public health information available about how to keep safe form the heat every time that there is a heatwave. So I just summarised the “Stay cool” tips that I normally follow. Coming from the city of Barcelona, where the summers are tough, these are the things that I do when it is hot:

Tip 1
Re-schedule your day so that you stay indoors during the hottest hours (that is 12h to 15h, or 12PM to 3PM). Go jogging, grocery shopping, and so on, early or late in the day, and do office work, house chores, etc, in the middle of the day.

Tip 2
Leave all the blinds down when you leave home in the morning, this will keep the sun and hot air out, and your home temperature will keep cooler.

Tip 3
Use a traditional fan. It’s cheap, highly effective, doesn’t need batteries and will last you a lifetime. Also a great conversation starter.

Tip 4
Drink 2 litres (8 glasses) of non-sugary liquids a day: water, ice tea, diet drinks. If you can, just drink water: it’s the healthiest, cheapest option available.

Tip 5
Older people, small children and people with learning disabilities often struggle to communicate or realise they are hot. Keep an eye on them, make sure they drink water and stay in the shade. How can you tell if you or someone near you is having a heat stroke? These are the symptoms and some of the things you can do.

Tip 6
Avoid the sun. Period. Do not sunbathe. Walk/stay in the shade whenever possible. I repeat. Avoid. The. Sun.

Tip 7
Use the cold water tap. Do not wash your hands with hot water. Cold water and soap are enough. For an extra cooling effect, let the water run for a few seconds before you wash your hands.

Tip 8
Wear natural fibres, such as cotton and linen. Lose clothes help keep cooler. Protect your skin: do not walk around without a top.

Tip 9
Sprinkle your wrists, forearms and back of the neck with some cold water. It is surprisingly effective.

Tip 10
Straw hats are a trap. The damaging UV & UVB sun rays go through the tiny holes in the straw. They give you the illusion that you are protected from the sun, but you are not. As a result, you end up staying under the sun for longer, feeling that you are safe. Just use a (natural fibre) fabric hat.

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