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.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album