How to survive a heat wave in the city

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When a heat wave strikes, particularly in a city, it can be unbearable; it can even kill. Yet, although it may be tempting to stay in an air conditioned building, it is always going to be possible – and in any case, not everyone has the luxury of air conditioning. Here are some tips to cope with the hot weather so that you can go about your every day business as normally as possible.

Drink drink drink

It may seem obvious, but dehydration is a major cause of feeling unwell during a heat wave. You may think you are drinking enough, but you almost certainly aren’t. You should drink eight large glasses of water a day in any case, but when the weather is hot, you should drink even more. Avoid drinks that contain too much sugar or caffeine as far as possible – plain water is the most thirst quenching. Always have a glass by the side of your bed.

Eat fruit

As well as drinking, it is a good idea to eat fruit, which has a high water content. Watermelon is an excellent choice, because it is so refreshing. If your teeth can bear it, you can put it in the fridge for an extra cooling sensation. Hot weather often decreases the appetite, so by eating plenty of fruit, you can have a mini detox at the same time.

Purchase air conditioning/electric fan

If you don’t already have it, an air conditioning unit or an electric fan is a must. Hot sticky weather usually means there is little in the way of a breeze, so the only way to cool down is going to be through man-made means. Just try to ensure that you do not sit directly under the current of air – you could well cool down too quickly, which is unlikely to be good for your health.

Stay out of direct sunlight

You may not be able to avoid going outside, but it should be possible to avoid direct sunlight. When you travel, opt for air-conditioned transport as much as possible. When you are moving around outside, keep to the shadows – it will still be hot, but it should be more bearable. And don’t forget to apply sun-screen whether you are in direct sunlight or not – there is nothing worse than hot, sticky weather and coping with burning skin at the same time.

Move your exercise indoors

The temptation to avoid exercise when it is too hot can be overwhelming. However, provided you are sensible, there is really no need – and in any case, keeping fit and healthy will help you cope better with the heat. Ensure that you either exercise in an air conditioned location or stick to exercising very early in the morning or later in the evening when it is a little cooler, sticking to the indoors as far as possible.

Sleep on bamboo

Sleeping during a heatwave can be difficult, especially if you don’t have air conditioning. The Chinese have an excellent way of coping with this – they sleep on mats of slatted bamboo which can be tied over a mattress. The bamboo is cool to the touch and it is nowhere as near as uncomfortable as it may sound. You may not be able to bear anything over the top of you, but try and at least cover up your stomach – not doing so may result in a chill. Once you have slept well, you will be more able to cope with the heat of the day.

Have a lukewarm shower

It may be tempting to have a cold shower, but a lukewarm one, as many times a day as you see fit, is more advisable – the shock that cold water on a warm body can provide is really not worth it. If you are really unbearably over-heated, then sitting in a warm bath may be a more tempting option.

Going about your everyday life in a heatwave can be incredibly tiring, but by following these tips, you should be well on your way to coping with it.


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