How to cool down in a heat wave

How to cool down in a heat wave BLOG Wednesday 13th July 2022


How to cool down in a heat wave – what the science says

As UK temperatures soar, here are some research-backed tips for staying safe

11 JUL 2022

Climate change and health researcher Chloe Brimicombe looks at what science says about cooling your body down in warm temperatures

We spend most of the year complaining that Britain is too cold and wet but gripe with just as much enthusiasm about the heat. Although moaning about the weather is satisfying, it’s better to take action and cool yourself down.

You need to take extra care in the UK when temperatures hit 24C as this is when heat illness and deaths start increasing.

The ‘wet bulb’ temperatures behind unprecedented heatwaves

What is the hottest UK temperature on record?

Being too hot makes you unwell and can even kill you. Some people are more vulnerable to heat. People over 65, under five, pregnant women, those with medical conditions (such as heart disease and mental health conditions) and those who work outside need extra protection in hot weather. You can increase your tolerance to heat if you acclimatise slowly over time.

Staying cool

Research shows that putting your feet in cold water is a good way to reduce core body temperature and keep your organs working. It will also help reduce swelling in your ankles and feet.

However, having a lukewarm shower or bath will cool you down faster and is the most effective way to cool down. Don’t be tempted to soak in freezing cold water as cold shock can be dangerous. In drought conditions, conserve water and concentrate on cooling either your feet, hands or neck and face.

The refreshing breeze from an air fan against your skin might feel good but it does not always cool you down. Fans can actually make you feel worse, especially in dry heat conditions, speeding up dehydration and heat illnesses. The guidance from the World Health Organisation is that using a fan above in temperatures above 35°C will not reduce your chance of getting heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

It is important to stay hydrated and replenish the minerals we lose when we sweat. On average in very hot conditions (high 30s) we sweat 3-4 litres per hour and up to 10 litres a day, the same as 40 cups of tea. For a short amount of time, hot drinks raise your core body temperature. But it induces sweating, which then lowers your temperature. Cold and ice drinks do cool you down too. It’s thought hot drinks might be slightly more effective than cold. Whatever the temperature, drink lots of fluid.

Another way to beat the heat is wild swimming. But be aware of cold shock. Slowly submerge your body in the water, understand the limits of your swimming ability and the rules about where it is safe to swim, because many people drown in hot weather.

Urban design

Those clammy, sleepness nights in a heatwave can leave you wondering if it’s time to raid the savings and install air conditioning. The heat can be especially bad in cities, which create urban heat islands (a metropolitan area a lot warmer than surrounding rural spaces). But there is a solution that’s gentler on your energy bill.

Green walls and roofs not only look pretty but can cool the buildings beneath them by as much as 12C, while green walls can be up to 32C cooler than conventional walls and save 59% of energy costs as well as providing sound insulation.

They have blossomed in London boroughs where they have been made part of local planning policy since 2008. They cool flat-roofed buildings in summer and insulate them in winter, reduce the risk of flooding by soaking up rainwater, filter air pollution and provide refuges for rare and threatened wildlife – which can struggle with the heat too.

Animals in the heat

Leaving fresh water dishes in your garden or balcony can make all the difference for wild animals. Birds and hedgehogs will appreciate food you put out for them any time of year but during the summer the ground can harden, making it harder to forage. Plants also suffer in heat. You can help by learning when the best time to water them is.

And watch out for pets. Do not leave them (or people) in cars. It is best to walk pets in the morning or evening when the pavement and ground surface is cooler.

Climate change is driving a rise in heatwaves. One study showed that someone born in 1960 is on average likely to experience around four heatwaves, whereas someone born in 2020 is likely to experience 30 heatwaves with 1.5C warming. We have a 50% chance of hitting this level in the next ten years.

So protecting yourself from heat may seem like common sense, but it could be the difference between life and death.

Chloe Brimicombe, PhD Candidate in Climate Change and Health, University of Reading.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.



The Top 10 candidates who came last in Tory leadership elections

There have been 10 contested elections for the leadership of the Conservative Party since it adopted democracy in 1965

John Rentoul – Independent

  1. 1965: Enoch Powell, shadow defence secretary, 15 votes, 5 per cent of the total. Ted Heath, shadow chancellor, beat the other candidate, Reginald Maudling, shadow foreign secretary. Powell’s poor showing emboldened Heath to sack him from the shadow cabinet three years later for his “Rivers of Blood” speech.


  1. 1975: Hugh Fraser, former secretary of state for air, 16 votes, 6 per cent. Margaret Thatcher, shadow environment secretary, beat Heath in the first ballot, and then William Whitelaw, Geoffrey Howe and Jim Prior in the second after Heath withdrew.


  1. 1989: Sir Anthony Meyer, backbencher, third baronet, 33 votes, 10 per cent. Thatcher defeated the pro-EC protest candidate by an overwhelming margin, but another 27 MPs abstained and she seemed mortal for the first time. He was deselected for his disloyalty, joined an outfit called the Pro-Euro Conservative Party set up in 1999 by former Tory MEPs, and later the Liberal Democrats.


  1. 1990: Douglas Hurd, foreign secretary, 56 votes, 15 per cent. Entered the second round after Thatcher failed to beat Michael Heseltine by the required 15 per cent margin; Thatcher withdrew and John Major defeated Heseltine.


  1. 1995: John Redwood, Welsh secretary, 89 votes, 27 per cent. Back me or sack me, said John Major, fed up with Eurosceptic carping. Michael Portillo, defence secretary, was too frit to stand, so Redwood did it instead. His slogan was “No change, no chance”, which was true, but Tory MPs decided that change meant no chance too, so they stuck with Major.


  1. 1997: Michael Howard, shadow home secretary, 23 votes, 14 per cent. Came fifth after William Hague reneged on a deal to back him and ran himself, beating Ken Clarke, Redwood and Peter Lilley.


  1. 2001: Michael Ancram, Conservative Party chair, 17 votes, 10 per cent. After a tie for fourth place with David Davis, neither candidate would back down, so the ballot was run again, Davis edging it by one vote. Both candidates then withdrew; in the final round, Portillo lost out by a single vote, and Iain Duncan Smith and Ken Clarke went to a members’ ballot for the first time.


  1. 2005: Ken Clarke, former chancellor, 38 votes, 19 per cent. Came fourth and last at the third time of trying, with David Cameron and Davis going through to the members’ ballot ahead of Liam Fox.


  1. 2016: Liam Fox, former defence secretary, 16 votes, 5 per cent. Theresa May was declared the winner after Andrea Leadsom withdrew from the members’ ballot. I think Michael Gove, who came third, should have taken her place but May would probably have won anyway. Boris Johnson had withdrawn before the first ballot.


  1. 2019: Esther McVey, former work and pensions secretary, 9 votes, 3 per cent. She came last in a field of 10 candidates, and was eliminated along with Mark Harper and Leadsom, who also failed to make the new threshold of 17 votes required to stay in the contest.


No one came last in the 2003 Conservative leadership election, not in the list, because Michael Howard was elected unopposed, which was the fashion in those days and copied by the Labour Party in 2007.


REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

– Nicolas Chamfort



  1. “Work hard in silence, let your success be the noise.” ―Frank Ocean.


Happiness is…keeping your cool in hot weather.


My teachers told me I’d never amount to much since I procrastinate so much. I told them, “Just you wait!”


Love is…warm and cosy.


  1. Teach your children the value of money.


A time to try to keep cool in hot weather…A time to try to keep warm in cold weather.





©2022 Phil M Robinson