Shut up the windows and tuck into a curry: Hot tips for surviving the heatwave

Short of moving somewhere cold, how do you beat the heat? Tom Peck tried some of the many suggestions for staying cool

After two mouthfuls of Madras there is a temptation just to drink the chilled peppermint tea, not do the recommended thing and atomise it over myself with a plant sprayer.

With the windows shut and the blinds down, it’s hot in here, and the searing curry’s journey from plate to mouth was a stressful experience in itself, requiring careful navigation past the blades of the handheld fan pointed at my face.

That, and the used tea bags pressed against my wrists and temples, might give the impression that I have succumbed to the heat, but if the mushrooming body of advice on how to stay cool in a heatwave is to be believed, these are eminently wise moves.

For seven consecutive days the temperature has climbed past 30C, a weather phenomenon not bestowed on any Briton since 2006 (apart from those rare few who, in the past seven difficult years, might have taken a week’s holiday somewhere hot).

The curry is a particularly unpleasant experience, but the good news is that I’m sweating. According to one of the approximately one million weather-related press releases received over the past week, eating something super hot will make you sweat, and sweating regulates body temperature. By this hypothesis, now would be an expedient time to inform your girlfriend’s dad of your intention to marry his daughter.

The tea bags on the temples, too, seem a little counter-productive. “Pulse points” such as the wrists and temples are apparently the eight-lane superhighways of your body’s blood traffic system. Blast the blood with something cold as it zips through and it will carry its chilled goodness all around the body.

Cold tea bags are readily available, but if you’re already got the handheld fan and the peppermint spray on the go (more on them later), you’ll have no choice but to hold them in place with elastic bands. Apart from making you look a little ridiculous, cold tea will run down your sideburns like rain down a window, meet under your chin and then drip-drip-drip down the front of your shirt.

As for the curtains and windows, it’s hotter outside than it is inside, so do the counterintuitive thing and close the lot, keeping the hot air out. Others recommend keeping the windows open, both upstairs and downstairs. During the day, this will allow hot air to rise and escape upstairs, and at night, noises from the burglars downstairs will bring on the much needed sweats.

With regard to the tea spray, the menthol in the mint has cooling properties, we are told. It works, undoubtedly, but it’s a labour intensive solution with a long preparation time. And with official government advice telling you not to leave the house between 11am and 3pm, the window in which to purchase a plant sprayer if you don’t already have one is narrow indeed.

If you can’t get one, that does at least partially free up the hands, which, according to Mike Tipton, professor of human physiology at the University of Portsmouth, should be plunged into cold water. “Your hands have a high surface area – it’s like you have five radiators sticking out of your palm,” he claims. “As soon as the deep body temperature returns to normal, it slows the blood flow to your hands and you’ll feel cool.”

Wearing wet clothes is another suggestion, from Cambridge University physicist Jardine Wright. The energy required to make the water evaporate will come from your body, cooling the skin. An interesting scientific experiment for lifeguards or anyone else not burdened by the sort of job that demands dry work attire.

About 1,000 deaths have already been attributed to the heatwave. But the figures are a faceless mathematical extraction rather than an actual sun-shrivelled bodycount, arrived at by comparing deaths in the past week with the year-round average, which is something of a peppermint spray in the face for writers of grizzly headlines.

Handheld fans must be pointed at the face for maximum impact. And they must be electric. Novice heatwave dodgers with their manual fans have been known to flap them too vigorously, the exertion of which heats the body faster than the humanmade breeze can cool it.

Chrysanthemum tea and a native American herbal remedy called Black Cohosh have both been heavily promoted. Both of these are claimed to target the hypothalamus and aid cooling. Were it not for the strict instructions to avoid strenuous activity, I would have tracked down said products and tested them.

There is of course, one crucial bit of advice: avoid alcohol. So whatever you do, keep out of the beer garden this weekend. It’s just too hot. There’ll be no one there. Honest.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?