Tips for sleeping through heat waves and how to stay safe in ‘red alert’ heat conditions

17 July 2022, 07:16

A national emergency is declared and a 'red alert' is issued due to the heat wave

A national emergency has been declared and a ‘red alert’ has been issued for the heat wave.

Image: Getty


Here’s advice from health experts on how to cope with hot weather, as the Met Office warns lives could be at risk during the expected record heatwave.

Temperatures are expected to exceed 37C in parts of the UK, with the Met Office warning of “a very serious situation” in issuing its first red warning for extreme heat.

Tips to keep your bedroom cool and to fall asleep in the heat

Falling asleep during a heat wave can seem like an impossible task, especially when you don’t have access to air conditioning, but there are steps you can take.

Julie Gooderick, an “extreme environment” expert at the University of Brighton, says setting up your environment before bed is key.

The ideal room temperature for sleeping is around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, he says, and to keep your bedroom from getting too hot, he recommends using fans, opening the windows at night, and keeping the curtains closed during the day.

She also recommends using a thin sheet instead of your regular comforter, avoiding daytime naps, and cooling down your body as much as possible; this can be done by using cooling pads, a cold shower, or even putting your pajamas in the freezer. few hours before going to bed.

Another tip is to put baby wipes in a plastic bag in the fridge and use them to freshen up when needed.

Read more: Britons urged to ‘look out for family and friends’ as life-threatening 40C red alert looms

How can I take care of my body?

Extremely hot weather poses the risk of conditions like heat stroke and heat exhaustion, which can sometimes be fatal. Every year the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) sees excess deaths during periods of extremely hot weather.

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and try to avoid the sun (and physical exertion outdoors) between 11 am and 3 pm, when the sun is strongest.

The UKHSA advises people to walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide-brimmed hat in hot weather, and to ensure that fridges and freezers are working properly.

Who is most vulnerable to heat and how should I take care of them?

Some people are more vulnerable to heat than others, particularly those 75 and older, people with serious health problems, and those who can’t keep cool.

Be sure to monitor people who live alone and be aware of symptoms of heat exhaustion, which can include dizziness and confusion, headache, and high temperature.

If you notice that someone is experiencing the symptoms of heat exhaustion, you need them to cool down; make sure he is drinking enough water, lay him down and move him to a cool place if possible.

How should I keep my baby cool in hot weather?

It is essential to prevent babies from becoming dehydrated and overexposed to sunlight: regularly apply sunscreen with a protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and keep the face cool with a wide-brimmed hat.

Babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight, says the NHS, 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 placing frozen water bottles in front of a fan for “a mini air conditioning solution” to help babies sleep when it’s hot outside.

“You can also hang a wet towel over a chair – pre-freezing it in the freezer helps, the evaporating water cools the air,” he adds. “If it’s really hot in your baby’s room, they can sleep in a t-shirt or diaper.”

How can I keep my pets cool?

It’s not just babies who 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’s cooler, and to ensure they have plenty of shade and water .

You can also keep them cool with pet-friendly frozen treats, and pet-safe sunscreen is also available.

Never leave pets alone in parked cars and make sure you know the key signs of heat stroke: Symptoms in dogs and cats can include panting, diarrhea and restlessness.

Should I exercise in the heat wave?

Avoid extreme physical activity during the hottest part of the day, but there are ways to exercise safely during a heat wave.

Try to do it during the cooler hours, early in the morning or at night, and be sure to drink enough water.

Going for a swim can be a good way to cool off, but make sure you do it in safe places and with lifeguards.

“People will want to cool off, but don’t dive into open water because it’s colder than it looks,” warns the London Fire Brigade.

“There is a risk of cold water shock, which can send your body into shock no matter how fit you are.”

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