How to keep cool in summer

Every time there is a heatwave, people struggle to keep cool in summer. It's hard to know what to do when you get a sudden rise in temperature. Should you go buy some air conditioning. Or is it a temporary thing that will not occur next year?

Keeping cool is just a matter of forward planning that should ensure you are comfortable no matter what the weather. Here are some tips about how to go about it:

1. Open your windows at night to allow the cool night air to come into the house. However do be careful not to leave windows on the ground floor open - you don't want thieves entering. For security it's best to open windows on upper floors that are not overlooked by anyone. First thing in the morning, close all windows - you don't want to let the cold air out and allow warm air in.

Close all curtains during the day. Consider getting heavy duty dark curtains that are fully lined as they will block the sunlight better and keep your house cool.

2. You may wish to think about buying awnings for your windows - these are canvass shades outside the window. If you have awnings in place, the sun won't penetrate the outside shade, which means you can open the curtains and let some light in.

3. Stay out of the sun during the peak times of 11a.m. and 3 p.m. Due to the advent of late night shop opening hours, it's possible to do all your shopping in the evenings rather than during the day. You can also shop online for things such as groceries, which will be delivered to your house.

4. Chill bottles of water in the fridge overnight. I've taken to putting clean glasses and mugs in the fridge too - they cool in a way plastic doesn't, which means that when you drink out of your mug in the day, it's deliciously cool to the touch. Don't forget to drink regularly during the day - our bodies perspire more in the heat which means we lose a lot of water that needs to be replenished.

5. Dress for the weather. Don't wear the same things in winter and summer (plenty of old people are guilty of this). The best clothing for the heat is loose cotton clothes which breathe. That means tight denim jeans are out and loose combat trousers are in. Don't wear nylon. On the other hand don't wear the skimpiest thing going leaving all your tender flesh exposed to the ferocious sun. It's better to wear a thin long-sleeved overshirt to protect your skin. Dark colours protect more than light colours, so if you are prone to burn, don't wear white no matter how fashionable.

6. Have coolish showers to refresh you, and consider dusting your body with old fashioned talculm powder to keep cool. For those who are overheating and in distress, immerse your body into luke-warm water (not cold, that will give you shock).

7. Plant shade trees round your house to lower the temperature in the space surrounding your home. If you live in a warm climate, remember that brick is better than concrete as it breathes.

8. If you live in a temperate climate such as the UK, where heatwaves are a rare occurrence, it makes sense to get a portable air conditioning unit rather than going to the expense of installing a proper aircon unit in your house. It means you can move it about as you move from one area of the house to the other - eg have it in the living room during the day and move it to the bedrooms at night.

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