Cheap ways to keep your cool in a heat wave

Just in case this heatwave ever decides to hit, there are ways you can protect your health and your home.

Apparently this weekend’s going to be a scorcher. I’m sceptical, but it is sunny in Manchester for the first time in forever, so you never know.

Although it might feel like it’s cold temperatures that we need to watch out for, heat also impacts your health and your home. Plus, because it’s not weather we really expect in the UK, it means we’re always absolutely blindsided by it when it does happen.

The obvious solution would be to hit the beach, invest in air con or get a loved one to fan you with palm branches. But seeing as this is England and not the Bahamas, air con is expensive and being fanned like an Ancient Egyptian emperor is frowned upon, here are some easier ways to keep cool at home.

Chill out

It might seem like the last thing you want to do, but when the going gets hot, shut the curtains. Especially during the day and if you’re out, it stops the heat getting in (probably not the technical explanation for what happens but it’s as good as you’re going to get).

If you can, sleep in a ground floor room, as hot air rises, and kick it medieval-school by turning off lights and other electronics, like computers and ovens, as they all give off heat.

Once you’re sat in the dark like Gollum under Mount Doom, you can start getting creative with sheets.

First up, linen and cotton sheets are cooler than satin and silk so if by some chance you sleep like a Russian aristocrat, now’s the time to switch it up.

If you want to add an extra something to your nightt-ime routine, put the sheets in the freezer before you sleep to take ‘cool side of the pillow’ to another level. Hang a wet sheet in front of an open window to cool the room during the day.

Other, slightly less weird tips include filling a hot water bottle and sticking it in the freezer to turn it into an ice pack, and showering in warm or tepid water as hot water creates steam which creates a sweaty, angry situation.

Then, figure out where’s coolest in the house, throw open some windows (unless it’s warmer outside than inside, in which case just have them slightly ajar for fresh air), and embrace your new life in your ice fortress.

If you want to get a bit more high-tech, strategic fan placement is everything. Turn your fan to face the window rather than facing you to push the hot air out, and if you put a box of ice in front of a fan that’s pointed at you, you’ll get a nice cool breeze.

In the longer-term, you can also paint the house white to reflect the sun, and plant trees and plants in the garden to create shade. Indoor plants and bowls of water in the house also help cool the air using evaporation.

That sinking feeling

On a structural note, heat can also cause problems with your foundations and – in some particularly dire cases – cause them to sink.

While it’s unlikely our top-notch North-Westerly soil will crumble under the pressure, it’s still good to keep an eye out for warning signs such as:

  • New or expanding cracks in plasterwork
  • New or expanding cracks in outside brickwork
  • Doors or windows sticking for no particular reason
  • Ripping wallpaper that isn’t caused by damp

Of course, if you’re an Onward customer at all worried about how prepared your home is for a heatwave, or any strange signs like these, get in touch.

Not feeling so hot, hot, hot

Finally, the last key to riding out a heatwave is to look after your health.

Step one, wear suncream. All day, every day. I don’t care if it’s grey outside, those rays are still coming for you.

NHS advice also recommends staying out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, and wearing a hat and light scarf when you do venture out – especially if you have children, older or vulnerable people with you.

Have plenty of cold drinks, and avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks. Instead, swap them out for cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content.

Keep an eye on isolated, elderly, ill or very young people and make sure they are able to keep cool and never leave them alone in stationary cars. Same goes for pets, peeps.

If you have a condition you need to take medication for, consider keeping them in the fridge (read the storage instructions on the packaging) and see your doctor if you feel dizzy, weak, anxious or have intense thirst and headache. If you start feeling weird or ill, get into the shade as quickly as possible and drink lots of fluids.

Medical attention is needed if heat cramps last more than one hour, or if you’re at all worried about yourself or someone else, call NHS on 111, visit your GP.

If you’re an Onward customer with a repair that needs doing or are worried about your home in the heat, get in touch

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