How to keep yourselves and others cool on what is likely to be Wales’ hottest ever day
Step outside at 1pm on Monday in Wales and you are very likely to experience the hottest weather the nation has ever experienced in recorded history.
The previous record of 35.5 celsius record set in Hawarden, Flintshire in August 1990, looks set to melt away across the country, with parts of Monmouth set to experience temperatures as high as 38 celsius.
The tendency in Wales is to rush out to take advantage of any boiling weather – we wait long enough for it during the colder, wetter months.
But it’s worth considering that when other countries face these kinds of temperatures, they stay indoors.
Other countries are also built for hot weather, with more ventilation and air conditioning. Wales’ buildings are designed to keep the warmth in, and our infrsatructure wasn’t built for over 35 celsius either.
Here is everything you need to know about coping during the heatwave, from keeping your pets cool to making sure you are drinking enough water.
How can I keep cool to look after my own health?
Try to avoid the sun (and physical exertion outdoors) between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is strongest.
Extreme hot weather poses the risk of conditions such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion, which can sometimes be fatal. Each year, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) sees excess deaths during periods of extreme hot weather, starting at only 24 degrees.
The UKHSA also advises people to walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly, and wear a wide-brimmed hat in the heat.
Indoors, turn off non-essential lights and electrical equipment and keep rooms shaded by closing blinds and curtains, and make sure fridges and freezers are working properly. The WHO also suggest hanging wet towels inside rooms to help keep the air cool.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. But avoid alcohol as it will make you urinate and sweat more, losing water from your body.
Putting you feet in cold water will also cool down your whole body.
Should I travel?
Wales’ railroads and tarmac roads were built for cooler temperatures and could buckle or melt in the heat.
Transport for Wales (TfW) and Network Rail are asking customers to check before they travel on public transport with hot weather likely to cause disruption and affect travelling conditions. They have already cancelled a large number of services in anticipation.
The Met Office are warning that the extreme heat could potentially leading to localised loss of power and other essential services, such as mobile phone services. So don’t put yourself in a position where you need to arrange a trip home but can’t do so.
Remember also that significantly more people are likely to visit coastal areas, lakes and rivers leading to increased risk of water safety incidents. This could lead to delays but also put pressure on many of Wales A&E services, particularly as a large part of the population lives in coastal areas.
How can I get to sleep when my bedroom feels like a sauna?
Getting to sleep during a heatwave can seem like an impossible task, particularly when you don’t have access to air conditioning – but there are steps you can take to get a good night’s sleep.
Julie Gooderick, an “extreme environments” expert at the University of Brighton, says it is key to set your environment before sleeping.
The ideal room temperature for sleeping is around 18-21C, she says, and to avoid your bedroom becoming too hot she advises using fans, opening windows at night, and keeping curtains closed during the day.
She also advises using a thin sheet instead of your regular duvet, avoiding napping during the day, and cooling your body down as much as possible – this can be done using cooling pads, a cold shower, or even putting your pyjamas in the freezer a few hours before bedtime.
Who is most vulnerable in the heat, and how should I look out for them?
Some people are more vulnerable than others in the heat, particularly those who are aged 75 or older, people with serious health conditions, and those who are unable to keep themselves cool.
Ensure you check in on those who live alone, and be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion – these can include dizziness and confusion, a headache and a high temperature.
If you notice someone is experiencing the symptoms of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down – make sure they are drinking enough water, lie them down and move them to a cold place if possible.
How should I keep my baby cool in the hot weather?
It is essential to avoid babies becoming dehydrated and overexposed to sunlight – regularly apply sunscreen with a protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and keep their faces cool with a wide-brimmed sun hat.
Babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight, the NHS says, and older babies should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible.
Sleep consultant and CEO of Just Chill Mama, Rosey Davidson, advises putting bottles of frozen water in front of a fan to achieve “a mini air con solution” to help babies sleep when it is hot outside.
“You can also hang a wet towel over a chair – pre-freezing this in your freezer helps – the evaporating water cools the air,” she adds. “If it is very hot in your baby’s room they can just sleep in a vest or nappy.”
How can I keep my pets cool?
Not just babies struggle with the heat – pets are also at risk in extreme temperatures.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) advises dog owners to walk their pets in the morning or evening when it is cooler, and to ensure they have enough shade and water.
You can also keep them cool with pet-friendly frozen treats, and pet-safe sun cream is also available.
Never leave pets alone in parked cars, and make sure you are aware of the key signs of heatstroke – symptoms in dogs and cats can include panting, diarrhoea and restlessness.
Should I exercise in the heatwave?
Avoid extreme physical activity during the hottest parts of the day, but there are ways to exercise safely during the heatwave.
Try to do so during the cooler hours – in the early morning or evening – and ensure you take enough water.
Going for a swim can be a good way to cool down, but make sure to do so in safe, lifeguarded sites.
“People will want to cool down but don’t dive into open water as it’s colder than it looks,” the London Fire Brigade warns.
“There is the risk of cold water shock, which can cause your body to go into shock no matter how fit you are.”
Government advice is that 999 services should be used in emergencies only; seek advice from 111 if you need non-emergency health advice.
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