With the UK facing some crazy Australian-style high temps over the coming days, I thought it might be useful to post a little reminder of some ways to beat the heat and deal with the unwelcome side effects of a heatwave.
It goes without saying that the best thing you can do in this weather is hydrate, stay as cool as possible, don’t try and do too much and keep an eye on the very young and the elderly to ensure that they’re coping OK with the heat. Given the current Covid-19 situation, checking on the elderly will need to be done in a socially distance friendly manner.
If at any time you are concerned that someone is more than ‘just a little bit hot’ then please, err on the side of caution and seek medical advice through 111 immediately or 999 if you feel it’s a medical emergency.
Some of these are blindingly obvious but perhaps there will be something new in here for people.
CHILDREN AND CARS
Children die in hot cars and it takes minutes, not hours.
On a 29 degree day, the inside of a car can heat up to 44 degrees in just 20 minutes.
Tests conducted by the Victorian Metropolitan Ambulance Service in Australia on a 29-degree day with the car’s air conditioning having cooled the interior to a comfortable 20 degrees showed it took just 10 minutes for the temperature to more than double to 44 degrees and in a further 10 minutes, it had tripled to a deadly 60.2 degrees.
Minutes Car Interior Temp Effect on Child
0 min 20 degrees
10 min 44 degrees Serious Injury Brain Damage
20 min 60.2 degrees Deadly
(The testing was undertaken with a light-coloured sedan with windows closed using an electronic temperature sensor in the position of a child’s rear car seat)
Anyone seeing an unattended child in a vehicle should call police immediately. If the child is in immediate distress, dial 999 and inform the police of your location, the license plate number of the car and that there is an immediate threat to life unless the car can be opened. In most, but not all cases the police will talk you through what to do until they arrive.
If the situation is incredibly dire, then under the 1971 Criminal Damage Act it appears that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe the owner of the property would consent to it if they knew the circumstances. However, the owner of the car could still choose to press charges and you would need to defend your actions in court and could still be charged with criminal damage. Being guided by the police is your safest bet.
If the sun is out, then the sunscreen goes ON!
Do not put it just on arms and legs, you need to put it on the tops of their ears, back of the neck and under their chin. If they are wearing t-shirts, school shirts, dresses then sunscreen should be 2 inches inside every opening of the t-shirt. That means neck, arms and waistbands. Make sure the tops of their feet, backs of their hands and backs of their knees have sunscreen on them. These are key sunstroke areas for little people. Factor 50 sunscreen is worth every penny – if like mine, your child has a reaction to most sunscreens, then I can recommend the Childs Farm range of sunscreens as being safe, effective and kind to skin. Not an ad -just a fan!
Reapply kids sunscreen twice as often as you think you need to. Face it, kids run around sweating, they roll around and they are constantly rubbing their skin; so that means sunscreen needs a boost more frequently than you may at first have thought. I don’t know about you, but I consider it better to have a sunscreen slicked kid for a couple of hours than a sunburned, dehydrated, miserable one for days.
Think LOOSE and think COTTON!
Cotton clothing breathes and wicks sweat, so it is far more comfortable in warm weather. Loose cotton t-shirts (Fruit of the Loom basic ones are great), cotton dresses and shorts. Do NOT dress them in anything dark or black if they are playing outside as they will roast!
Give them Water. All-day. All the time. As much as they will take and while you’re at it, have some yourself! Hydration is paramount in conditions like this, particularly in areas where the humidity is really high.
Ice lollies are also a brilliant way to cool hot, tired little people down. The sugar in ice lollies/ice pops are great, but primary hydration should always come from water, so do not let them overdo the pops. Alternatively, make up some of your own pops – watered-down dilute/cordial/squash in cups popped in the freezer overnight will keep them just as happy. Honest.
For grown-ups, I know this is cocktail and beer weather, but make sure that for every alcoholic beverage you consume, you have at last a pint of water. This will a) save you a nasty hangover and b) keep you cool and hydrated.
QUICK COOL DOWN
Running cold water over your wrists is a scientifically proven way to bring your body temperature down. Blood runs close to the surface of the skin in your wrists, so running cold water on them is a very effective way of cooling down quickly. Great if you think you’re approaching heat exhaustion stage.
If you’re sunburned, there is one thing you need to have on hand to help. Aloe Vera Gel.
Aloe is the best thing ever, I say this as a redheaded Aussie who has been sunburned many, many times. Apply it as soon as you come in from outside. Keep applying it every 30 mins until the pain stops and the heat comes out of the sunburn. Be aware that your sunburn will be worse after the sun goes down and that while you are sunburnt you will have less ability to control your body temperature so you may feel chilled.
BEAT THE HEAT SURVIVAL KIT
When the mercury gets up above 24 degrees, there are a few things that I automatically carry in my bag when leaving the house. No one in our family tolerates the heat particularly well, so having these on hand just makes sense.
• A small spray bottle of water
• A small battery-powered fan
• Bottled water
• Cold pack*.
*You can buy ones that don’t need freezing, but I have used everything from lunch bag ice bricks to frozen wet folded face washers in small zip lock bags and they work just as well.
Pacing yourself, knowing your limits and making sure to stay hydrated and out of the sun is the key to making it through this heatwave.
Stay sun safe out there this season and beat the heat!
For NHS guidance on avoiding, identifying and treating dehydration, please follow this link:
For more information on how to deal with Heat Stroke, Heat Exhaustion, please see the NHS website link below: