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How to Cope in a Heatwave

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Summer is here, and we’re sweltering. While some parts of the world are used to temperatures pushing 40°C/104°F or higher, the sudden arrival of a summer heatwave can be too much for the rest of us to handle.

If you’re desperately trying to spend all day in the shade, investing in a portable fan and ordering extra ice in every drink, here are some tips on how to stay cool in hot weather.

Drink a lot, even when you don’t feel thirsty

Yes, it will probably mean more trips to the toilet, but it’s important to keep drinking cold drinks regularly, so carry around a bottle of water with you. As you know, a lot of our bodies are water so you need to replace everything you’re sweating out. Coffee and alcohol don’t keep you hydrated, so try and avoid them.

Have lukewarm baths or showers

Stepping into cooler water than normal is the stuff of nightmares under normal circumstances, but in a heatwave it’s heavenly. If you’re a bit apprehensive, try gradually lowering the temperature from warm to lukewarm to help you adjust to it. Don’t make the water too cold, though, as your body will react to the cold by preserving heat.

Keep curtains and windows closed during the day

Yes, you might think this is crazy, but actually having windows (and curtains) closed can make your room cooler, depending on the circumstances. If your room is already colder than outside, keeping them closed will help it stay that way. Of course, if your curtains are thick and heavy, there’s a risk they’ll trap heat in the room so it’s best to leave them open. You can always open the windows if a breeze has picked up towards the evening (hopefully your window will be the right side for it to come in!).

Run your wrists under the cold tap, and spritz your face with water

While these ways to stay cool in hot weather may feel a bit strange, they actually work. If you run the cold tap over your wrists for five seconds every few hours, the blood in the vein which passes through this area will cool, lowering your body temperature. You could also use a face mist (either a DIY one, or a skincare product) to spritz yourself occasionally – and keep it in the fridge so it’s refreshing every time.

Replace your duvet with a thinner one

Sleeping during a heatwave can feel almost impossible, but getting rid of the duvet altogether can be a controversial step. After all, without your duvet, what will protect you from the monster under the bed?

Instead, get a thinner duvet or sheet to stay cool in hot weather – if you have space, you might even like to put your duvet and pillowcases in the freezer a few hours before bed. Some people also find that sleeping in damp sheets helps, and if you’ve got a hot water bottle, try using it for the opposite of its intended use, and fill it with ice cold water. Also, don’t forget to keep a glass of cold water by your bed when you go to sleep.

Turn off electrical appliances when you don’t need them

Finished charging your phone or using your laptop? Switch off all the electrical sockets you aren’t using, as they produce unnecessary heat. The same goes for light bulbs, so try and keep them off for as long as possible. This doesn’t mean you should unplug your fan though, you’ll probably be needing that.

Other tips

  • If you know anyone who might be particularly vulnerable in heatwave conditions (such as elderly neighbors) why not go over and check they’re keeping cool?
  • It goes without saying that you shouldn’t leave dogs in hot cars, but also don’t walk your dog during the daytime – go in the evening when the pavement will be cooler on their paws!
  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing – dark-colored clothes absorb heat. Breathable fabrics like cotton are great for keeping cool in heatwave conditions.
  • If you live in London, .
  • If all else fails, simply take up residence in your local supermarket’s frozen foods section.

Do you have any tips on how to cope in a heatwave? Let us know in the comments.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The Assistant Editor of, Sabrina edits and publishes articles which guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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