If it's scorching where you are, you're no doubt loving the barbecues, drinks after work and balmy holiday vibe, but probably not enjoying the sleeping in a hot, stuffy bedroom or perspiring on public transport part.
Most people are able to cope when the mercury soars to uncomfortable levels, but heatwaves pose a serious health risk for certain vulnerable groups. Older people over 75 who live alone, babies and young children, people with chronic health conditions and those who work outside are particularly at risk from heat-related illnesses, which range from sunburn, rashes, dehydration and cramps to heat exhaustion and potentially fatal heatstroke.
Luckily, you don't have to resort to loitering in the freezer section at your local supermarket to beat the heat, as tempting as it may be. We've put together a selection of pointers to help you enjoy the hot weather without jeopardising your health.
© Vita Coco
Aim to drink at least two litres of fluids a day if you can. Water, electrolyte-balancing coconut water and fresh juices are best. The latest research suggests caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea aren't as dehydrating as once thought, but it's still advisable to cut down on these sorts of beverages. Booze is a big no-no. If you are drinking alcohol, try to match each bevvie you have with a glass of water to lessen the risk of dehydration.
Make your home heatwave-friendly
Shut your windows and close your curtains or blinds during the day to keep the heat out, and open them after-dark to circulate the cooler night-time air. It's also a good idea to cover south-facing windows in tin foil to deflect the sun's rays. Unplug any gadgets you're not using – devices on standby up the ambient heat levels – and if you have a non-combi boiler, try to keep its use to a minimum.
Hit the shops
Hanging out in the freezer section of your local supermarket may not be your idea of fun, but it's sensible to spend your spare time in public places with industrial air conditioning that should most definitely help keep you cool. If you've got a day off work for instance, think about escaping the heat in a shopping centre, gym, public library, cinema or other place with decent AC. Or if you're craving some outside fun, hit the local lido if there's one if your area.
Avoid the sun
Steer clear of the sun and seek shade as often as you can, especially between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the UV rays are at their most intense, and slap on a decent broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 that will protect your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Clothes-wise, wear a hat and opt for floaty, loose, natural fabrics in light shades – this is not the time for tight polyester suits or restrictive bodycon LBDs.
Take lukewarm showers
Water is your BFF in a heatwave. Shower in lukewarm rather than cold water – overly chilled H20 will shock your body into conserving heat. Plunge your hands in cool water when you're feeling hot and bothered or run your wrists under a cold tap. You may also want to dampen your clothes during the day, or wet towels at night and place them on your body and brow if it's really stifling in your bedroom.
Cool down the techy way
Invest in a high-velocity fan, which will deliver a gale force-like breeze, or if you've got more cash to splash, opt for one of Dyson's excellent bladeless fans, which only cost around 15p a day to run. Popping a bowl of ice in front of the fan will add to the cooling effect. For cooling on-the-go, bag a personal portable fan. Want to pull out all the stops? Consider hiring or buying a portable air con unit, which will set you back about 30p an hour in leccy costs.
Pamper yourself cool
There are some fantastic beauty products out there that can help cool you down. Carry around a mineral water mister or a cooling spray and spritz when you're feel sticky. If your feet swell in the heat, you may also want to snag some cooling foot lotion – we like The Body Shop's peppermint version. A quality aftersun with aloe vera will also help chill you out. And try to store your toiletries, moisturisers, eye gel and so on, in the fridge if you can.
Ditch the oven
Forget using the oven or hob until the heatwave passes and fill your fridge with deli salads, cold meats, smoked fish – basically anything that doesn't involve cooking at high temperatures. Grab some bags of ice from your local corner shop or supermarket and stock up on ice cream and lollies. If you fancy something hot, use your microwave or barbecue outside. It's also worth mentioning that protein-heavy meals increase metabolic heat, so try not to overdo it on the meat, fish, cheese and so on.
© Dunelm Mills
Sort out your bedding
Swap your duvet for a thin sheet. Ideally, your bedding should be 100% cotton or silk if you can afford it – artificial fabrics such as polyester aren't breathable and the sweat will just cling to your skin, making for an uncomfortable night's kip. Store your pillow cases and sheets in the freezer during the day and think about sleeping downstairs if your bedroom is too hot. If you have an unbreathable memory foam mattress, consider covering it with a cooling topper and a Soothsoft Chillow to maximise your comfort.
Order your food shopping online
You really don't want to be lugging bags of groceries around when the mercury soars. And not just because carrying bags in the heat is more exhausting – perishables go off much quicker when the weather is hot and your ice cream or lollies may melt by the time you get home. Instead, do all your food shopping online – supermarket delivery vans are refrigerated, so you won't have to worry about anything going bad.