How to keep your cool in the heatwave

How to keep your cool in the heatwave

With temperatures soaring into the high 20s over parts of the country in recent days, we’re all in desperate need of a large 99 and a decent fan.

housands of people flocked to beaches across the country over the weekend to bask in the sunshine, with a high of 29.5C recorded in Athenry, Co Galway, on Saturday to make it the hottest day of the year so far.

The sunshine is set to continue this week so here are some top tips on how to survive the heatwave during the day and at night.

Drink up

We all know how important it is to consume two litres of water each day, but it is especially important to stay extra hydrated during a heatwave so keep those water bottles topped up.

Help things along by eating foods with a high water content, such as watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, celery and pineapple.

If you’re exercising and working up a sweat, make sure you replenish hydration levels with water or sport drinks before, during, and after exercise. You can also spruce up your water by adding lemon and cucumber and be sure to keep those ice trays filled in the freezer.

Try to avoid drinking alcohol or overly caffeinated drinks as they may only dehydrate you further.

It is also advised to know the signs of dehydration. If you’re experiencing dizziness, fatigue, suffering from a headache or muscle cramps, you may be dehydrated.

Remember your SPF

We all want to avoid getting burnt this summer and looking like a human Squashie, so it is essential to apply sun cream before going out into the heat and to top it up throughout the day. Sun cream can be water resistant, but it’s not waterproof so make sure to reapply after a swim or dip in the sea.

It is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sun cream that protects against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of at least 30.

If you do get burnt while out and about natural aloe vera gel is a great way to soothe the sting. Store it in the fridge for the ultimate cooling effect.

Protect the little ones

Dr Brian Higgins explains just how vulnerable children are in the sun: “Kids below six months have absolutely no ability to protect themselves from the sun, it automatically damages their skin, so keep them covered at all times and apply sun factor.”

“A certain amount of sunlight gets through clothing so put SPF underneath children’s clothing as they may even get sun damage through clothes. If in doubt, lift clothing up to the light and if a lot gets through then apply SPF,” he says.

Dr Higgins also advises not to let children outside during the hottest part of the day.

“Kids can get stressed from the heat much quicker than we can. Bring them inside during the hottest part of the day to reapply sun cream or to have a nap and regularly stop playing to hydrate them.

“Paddling pools are great – or even taking out the hose or water guns to cool them down – but don’t overdo it.”

Dr Higgins recommended keeping fruit slices in the fridge or making smoothies with natural fruit juice.

If travelling in the car with young kids make sure they are not sitting in direct sunlight and keep a sunshade on the window as glass does not protect against all UV rays.

If there is air conditioning put it on and close the windows, if not keep the windows open.

Cotton on to restful sleep

There are many ways to keep your house cool when it’s hot outside. Keep windows, blinds and curtains closed to keep hot air out. Invest in some blackout blinds to block out the sun’s rays.

Using a fan is one of the easiest ways to stay cool this summer as it circulates air around the room. Mini handheld fans are also a great addition.

Fill up bowls with water and ice and leave them around the house or in front of a fan. Try to use the oven as little as possible.

Switch to cotton sheets to have a better night’s sleep and crack open your window to let in cool air overnight.

Mind your pets

Irish pets are not used to such hot weather and may struggle to stay cool at times of peak heat throughout the day.

Charles Cosgrave, co-owner and managing director of Village Vets, advises on ways to keep your pets happy and healthy during the heatwave. Village Vets have clinics in Meath and Dublin.

“Pets are not used to these temperatures and while they may sit out in the heat, we as owners have a responsibility to bring them inside into a cool area at the back of the house with tiled or timber floors. Make sure to replenish their water regularly and keep it cool, you can also leave out ice cubes,” he says.

Mr Cosgrave warns of the danger of leaving animals in parked cars in the heat without appropriate ventilation.

It is also important to be mindful of bee stings as dogs regularly snap at them and if they get stung their mouth can swell up, restricting their breathing. Jellyfish can also cause an allergic reaction.

On the topic of exercise, he says: “We would recommend no exercise at all during the peak of the day. Walk your pet in the early morning or late evening and ideally on grass or in the shade. Melting tarmac is very upsetting to pets and damages their paws.”

Mr Cosgrave also highlights ways of telling whether your dog is suffering from heat stroke.

“Dogs would be lethargic, panting, dizzy, vomiting or have diarrhoea. Collapsing is a huge indicator. Even one of those symptoms is enough. Watch out for abnormal behavior or any distress.”