This blog post goes out to all my fellow wilting Brits (and anyone of any other nationality who lives here and has acclimatised to our usual rainy drudgery). We’re struggling right now. It’s rough.
I’ve found it strangely hard to find good, practical advice about staying cool in the heat. I think this is probably because apart from Northern Europe, we’re the only country that has this problem because everywhere else is well prepared, with aircon and homes that are designed to let heat out in the summer. It’s really, really tough to not be able to cool down. I’m finding that my anxiety is getting worse, and I know other people are struggling in even worse ways. So I spent a little while compiling advice from various sources in the hopes that you’ll find some things that actually work for you.
1. Damp face cloths
Not the most glamorous or tidy option, but keeping a few damp washcloths in a bowl in the fridge is a lifesaver when you need to cool down quickly. Just get them out, and lay it over the back of your neck, on your forehead, or use a few and lay them over your arms and legs. If you do this just before you get into bed, it should help keep you cool enough to drop off to sleep.
2. Keep fizzy and still water in the fridge
It’s absolutely essential to keep cold water in the fridge in heat like this. So refreshing and quenching! I find that too many fizzy drinks make my teeth feel furry, but I love the refreshing feeling of the fizz, so I keep fizzy water in the fridge, though obviously that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Whatever you drink, make sure you have enough of it for your wee to be pale. If it isn’t, you aren’t drinking enough.
3. Windows at dawn
If you can sleep with your windows open, I’ll assume you’re doing it already. If you can’t, set an alarm for 5am, open them all up, and go back to bed. Your home will be much cooler when you wake up to start the day. Likewise, when you go out, close your curtains and leave the windows open as far as you safely can.
4. Cool the breeze
At night, hang a damp tea towel in front of any breeze you might be able to create (whether from a fan or an open window). This drastically cools the air down, but because tea towels are so thin it doesn’t stop the breeze from getting to you. You can also use a length of a thin fabric like muslin.
5. Wear white when you go out
Yeah we’re at that stage of heat where I no longer think this is a ridiculously middle aged thing to do. Cover up in white. Get yourself a linen shirt or trousers. It really, REALLY makes all the difference.
6. Use a black umbrella as a parasol
See above. Nuff said.
7. Get dramatic
Wet a large towel with cold water, wring it out, then lie on the floor underneath it and fan yourself with a stiff piece of card. If anyone sees you, who gives a fuck. It’s hot as balls.
8. Ice water bottle
Half fill a hot water bottle with water, then stick it in the freezer. About half an hour before bed, take it out and put it in your bed, to cool your sheets. Then, cuddle the bottle like you would in the winter, or if you’re like me, rest your feet on it. Just wrap it in a towel first!
9. Water sprays
When I worked in central London, in an office with no air con, we kept a supply of Caudalie Grape Water in the fridge and sprayed it ALL THE TIME. You can do this with Avene Thermal Water or any other brand that sells the big sizes of aerosol cans, or you can just get a couple of spray bottles from a garden centre, fill them with tap water and spray them all over your face, neck, chest, arms and legs whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed from the heat.
10. A cold ending
When you’re showering (if you’re anything like me this is certainly happening more frequently than usual), gradually turn the temperature of the water down, until by the end of the shower it’s completely cold. When I was in the Amazon we only had freezing cold water and I found it HORRIBLE to have that jolt of cold when the shower turned on. If you like that feeling, then go ahead and have a fully cold shower, but I can’t stand it, so I let it happen gradually instead.
11. Sleep under a wet sheet
At this point, pretty much everything we’ve been taught about not getting things wet incase they get mildew has gone out of the window. Even if your mattress gets wet, it won’t stay wet in this weather. So if you’re really struggling to sleep, take a sheet, get it wet, and sleep under it. Apparently this is what the Egyptians used to do! Just maybe put a towel underneath you to limit how much your mattress does get soaked.
12. And finally, don’t leave the house without…
A spare pair of socks and baby powder if you have to wear shoes to work.
Sunscreen (you need to be wearing this every day now, without fail, this is holiday weather).
Your favourite thigh-rub remedy if needed.
Flip flops for your journey to and from work.
A mini water spritz (Caudalie, Avene, Evian and Mario Badescu do good mini sizes).
A massive bottle of water.
And a hand held or makeshift fan.
Good luck! Together we might survive climate change for a few more years 🙂