Dealing with a Heatwave

You never know, it could happen! We may just have had long winter, but the British weather is notoriously contrary, so we could well have a scorcher of a summer in store. There’s bound to be at least a week or two when the temperatures go over thirty degrees, and just as we find it hard to cope when it snows, many of us find it just as hard to cope with too much heat. If Britain does get a heatwave this summer, be prepared for it so you can cope when it hits, and not spend the time flaked out with heat exhaustion wishing for rain!

Kids and the sun

Years ago, kids would play in the sun all day at the beach and go home looking like freshly cooked lobsters, where calamine lotion would be applied to soothe the burnt skin. Nowadays, however, our understanding of how important it is to protect our kids’ skin from the sun is far better. Always use a high factor sun-cream when your kids are outside, even if it clouds over. Don’t forget faces and odd places like the backs of the knees, which can be excruciating if they get burnt. Reapply this regularly, and if the kids go in the water slap some more cream on when they come out. Hats that shade the face and neck are best, and essential for youngsters. A bit of sunshine is good for the skin and is the way the body obtains Vitamin D, so don’t feel the sun is your enemy to be avoided at all costs. You just want to avoid overexposure and burning.

Adults and the sun

The same principles regarding skin protection apply to adults, except from the fact that you’re responsible for yourself, whereas the kids are relying on you to look after them. Remembering a sun cream, hat, and to avoid burning are all important but especially so if you are fair, have lots of moles, were sunburned as a child, or there is a family history of skin cancer. If at any time you do notice an alteration in your skin it’s best to get this checked by your doctor just to make sure it’s nothing to worry about. Use big beach umbrellas or shades if you’re sitting outside, and move as the sun moves so you don’t get exposed when the light starts hitting you directly. Try not to fall asleep in the sun – it’s very tempting when you’re warm and relaxed and laying somewhere comfortable, and if you can be sure of staying in the shade, it’s not so bad. However, if the sun moves around and catches you while you’re snoozing, you could wake up to some painful burns. Loose fitting clothing is a good idea rather than being bare-skinned for prolonged periods too.


Heat is more or a problematic issue than the sun in some ways. You can take precautions against the sun, but there’s not a lot you can do about the temperature when you’re outside. Dressing in light, loose layers is better than close-fitting clothing, and cotton is better than synthetics, which tend to make you sweat more. Sweating can be a big problem, because the hotter it is, the more you are going to sweat. Keeping clean is important, so keep the skin free of the bacteria that cause odours, and use a deodorant or antiperspirant should help. In case you don’t know, a deodorant masks smells, and an antiperspirant stops you sweating, so if you want both functions make sure it says both on the packaging. For some people, sweating can become an extreme problem, known as hyperhidrosis. In hot weather, this can make life miserable, so if you want to reduce sweating now, you could consider a longer-term solution such as Botox injections. High heat levels can also lead to heatstroke, which makes you feel dizzy, light-headed, nauseous, and if severe, delirious as well. Sheltering from excessive heat and not exerting yourself too hard at the hottest times of day will help you avoid heatstroke. Take a leaf out the books of people in sunnier climates like Spain, where the hottest period of the day is time for a siesta. They rest or sleep for a few hours in the afternoon, thereby avoiding the most intense heat, then stay up later at night to work and play when it’s cooler. Keeping the body’s temperature down is one of the most important things to do when it’s hot, as overheating can make you seriously ill. If you have fans or air conditioning, you may need to make use of them when the heat becomes extreme to avoid suffering from over-heating, especially in your workplace. The other important thing to remember is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Fluids of most kinds contribute to hydration, but water is, without doubt, the best thing to drink. You will probably feel thirstier in the heat because you are losing more water from sweating, which is how the body tries to keep you cooler. Drink at regular intervals to keep your hydration levels maintained, even if you don’t feel desperately thirsty.


Don’t forget your pets and wildlife when it’s hot. Make sure animals have shade from the sun, as they can suffer from heatstroke and in some cases sunburn too. Check they have plenty of fresh, clean water and that they have access to it at all times. Wildlife can suffer in the heat, and it’s a good idea to put shallow dishes of water out for birds and small mammals to help prevent them from becoming dehydrated.

If we do get a scorcher this summer, remember the gloomy, incessantly rainy days of the last winter, which at times seemed like it would never end, and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. After all, in Britain, you never know for sure what the weather is going to do next. By being prepared you can enjoy the summer even more.



Image courtesy of photostock at

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