So, part two – keeping your body cool, keeping your pets cool, and keeping your food cool.
Like anything else, there are occasions that feel like emergencies, or when you simply want something to happen fast. So, for immediate relief:
stash wetwipes in the freezer, use as needed.
hold your wrists under cold running water. Maybe use a bowl, since it’s also important to conserve water if you can.
soak a flannel with cold water, use it as a cold compress for your face and your head.
have a cool bath or shower. Even just splashing will help.
if you’re very short for time and severely overheated, stick your head under the cold tap!
Keep bottles of water in the fridge, or even the freezer, make some of the ones in the fridge the shop-bought fizzy ones for a treat.
Fill “hot” water bottles with water, and put them in the fridge, ready for you to take to bed.
Use loosely-plaited paracord, or even hair scrunchies, around the wrists, well-soaked to keep you cool as the water evaporates.
Have a tepid shower or strip wash before going to bed. Don’t towel yourself down. Evaporating water is key.
Know your own body, your own symptomatology – what does heat do to you in particular? Balance problems and migraines can be worse in heat, even though aches and pains can feel temporarily better.
Carry a parasol or umbrella to use as a sunshade.
Clothing and bedding
Wear loose, lightweight, light-coloured clothing, made of natural fibres, indoors and out. Cotton is best. Cover up your skin as much as possible.
Use a cotton top sheet and a light weight cotton blanket to pull on and off. Dampen the sheet with ice water, or use it before it’s dried after washing.
Don’t bother wearing underwear, if you can get away with it! If you can’t, wear cotton – it’s more absorbent. In any case, wear as little as possible on your own property.
Wear a wide brimmed hat when out and about. This protects you from sunburn, but also provides valuable shade from the heat, of course.
Footwear is crucial to comfort! Wear comfortable open flat sandals to prevent swelling feet if you have to walk anywhere.
Eating and drinking
Fill empty bottles with water and keep them in the fridge to use on their own or with a few frozen berries, a wedge of citrus or any of your favourite fruits. Make sure you have plenty of ice cubes.
Food for hot weather: salads and curries! I don’t do the curry thing myself in hot weather, but plenty of people do, and it originates in hot countries, so … more power to your elbow.
If you’re going to cook, do it in the most efficient way possible, so that you heat the house up as little as possible: cooking early in the day, using the microwave or slow cooker, using a steamer on top of a pan you’re using to cook something else, that kind of thing.
Bits of food that can be easily assembled seem to be really popular in the heat: sausages, cold meats, quiche, flan, tinned fish, cheese, hard boiled eggs, with salad or kidney beans, coleslaw and lengths of celery. Carbohydrates that can be eaten cold: potatoes, pasta, and bread and wraps of course!
Some soups are best used cold: gazpacho and ajo blanco, for example.
If you have desserts in your house: choc ices, tinned fruit, ice cream, soy sauce or evaporated milk, some yogurt, chopped bananas. Putting bananas in the freezer and turning them into smoothies is usually a hit.
Don’t forget your pets. Be aware of overheating for all species, especially furry ones.
Don’t leave dogs in cars.
Walk the dogs first thing in the morning then after the sun goes down in the evening Make sure they have access to shade if they’re outdoors.
For other pets, especially rabbits, put a bowl of ice cubes in their cages.
You might use old fashioned stoneware hot water bottles that can be picked up at car boot sales and fill them with crushed ice and cold water. They can be put in with the small pets or food animals – rabbits and guinea pigs, they lie up against them and sleep. Dogs too!
Consider cutting your dogs’ hair shorter than usual, especially the long-haired types.
Cooling coats for dogs.
I’m very doubtful about this, but the fact is that breeds of dogs meant for Scandinavia and the Arctic live in this country, and they may need help to do so, as well as new breeds of dog that are bigger, heavier and hairier than older breeds. So they may well need help too.
Looking at what’s on offer, it would be easy to simply drape a big wet cloth or chammy leather over your dog, that still makes use of evaporation! Or you could put freezer bricks in the dog bed, or even (and I’m letting my imagination run away with me here) make a little set of saddlebags for your dog so they can carry the freezer bricks around with them. Either of those tactics would certainly do well enough for a very sudden hot spell.
Stay safe, and cool, and enjoy what you have.