Keeping cool at home

As the high summer temperatures look set to continue Loughborough University has published advice to help householders keep their cool.

The habits of more than 400 million people from 40 different occupations across Europe were monitored during Heat-Shield, a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme.

And researchers found that single, prolonged heat exposure increased the chances of kidney disease and acute kidney injury.

As a result, the team advised those in both rental and privately owned properties to do the following:

*Drink adequately

While it is difficult to offer specific guidelines on the volume of fluid you should intake, an upper limit of 500 ml/hour is generally recommended with persistent heat exposure and low physical activity.

Drink little and often throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Try to drink two cups of water before sleeping to remain hydrated while you sleep.

If you exercise hard and for long periods you may need more water but given the risk of over-drinking, you should consult an expert for this.

*Invest in a fan

In typical UK heatwave conditions, a fan is always effective in keeping you cooler, especially if you keep your skin wet.

There exists some debate among the general public about when fans should be used during a heatwave.

In the UK, fans should always be used indoors, unless the indoor temperature is above 34 deg C. Fans use about 50 times less electricity than air conditioning units.

*Wet the skin

The normal reaction to heat is to sweat, but there is nothing special about the sweat that appears on our skin.

The evaporation of sweat from the skin surface provides an enormous cooling effect, but uses our own body water supply, so can cause dehydration and electrolyte losses.

Simply applying water to the skin with a spray, or flannel, mimics the powerful cooling effect of sweat evaporation and will preserve body water.

Even lukewarm water will do the trick, but cool water will provide some extra benefit!

*Cool down at night

The night-time should always provide respite from the effects of heat during a hot day.

However, houses can trap heat during a hot day, not allowing crucial recovery time.

If your house tends to remain warm in the night, open windows as soon as the sun goes down, if you think it is safe to do so.

Use the fan guidelines mentioned above and wet the skin if necessary. Having some air movement helps you to cope with the warmth.

Close curtains if necessary during the day to avoid peak heat and the sun shining in and heating it up.