How to keep cool inside during the heatwave
Our bodies really are incredible machines. We have natural systems which work to keep us comfortable but, as temperatures rise to potentially record-breaking highs in the UK this week, many of us are looking for extra help.
We primarily cool down by sweating. As sweat evaporates from our skin, it takes some heat with it, lowering our body temperature. In extremely hot and humid environments, sweat may not evaporate as quickly or effectively which can lead to overheating.
Overheating is not just uncomfortable, it can be very dangerous, people die each year from heat-related illnesses. This is obviously something we want to protect against for ourselves and our family in our home, it’s also important for employers to reduce the risk of heat illness to their workers and is essential in care settings.
We might think to open a window in an attempt to make a room feel cooler however outdoor temperatures may be higher than indoors, and if there is little to no natural breeze, this can actually have the adverse effect.
Professor Susan Roaf, an expert in adaption of buildings for climate change, says “You need ventilation to actually cool the body down”. Though ventilation alone doesn’t lower the temperature of the air, it does increase air flow and circulation which helps speed up the evaporation process for sweat. That is why a hot room feels much more comfortable with a fan.
It may be too short notice to install an MVHR in your home or an air-con system in your business for the current heatwave but with global heat trends it may be worth considering an upgrade in the near future. In the meantime, follow advice on how to stay cool during the heatwave and follow Met Office guidance on staying safe.
Tips for keeping cool this week:
- Close curtains or blinds on rooms facing the sun, especially between 11am and 3pm.
- Where possible use fans or ventilation systems to keep cool.
- Drink plenty of fluids and remember to help others who may struggle to keep hydrated such as young, old, vulnerable and animals.
- Keep windows closed during the day and open windows at night.
- Consider sleeping downstairs, or on the floor. Heat rises.
- If you’ve got an overheating house, try to spend some time in a cooler ventilated building such as a shopping centre or cinema for example or a friend’s house if they are lucky enough to have air con.