Keeping cool in the heat

Stephen McHugh
This post was last updated on
August 20, 2022
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If the weather is hotting up where you are, or whenever it does, and it certainly is in the UK at the time of this post. It is another opportunity for me to talk about a science related topic. I also see this is an opportunity for me to use

Keeping cool in the summer heatPin my improved understanding of the science involved to give my tips for staying cool during a summer heatwave.

Shaded areas

If you plan on being in more shaded areas, you could consider wearing darker clothing, as darker surfaces tend to be better emitters of heat, enabling you to feel even cooler in such settings.

Clothing

Wearing looser and lighter and whiter clothing of a material which is breathable and allows more in the way of airflow, as faster moving air can help to speed up the removal of warmer air by processes known as evaporation and convection.  

By passing cooler air over a warmer area, the heat will move and replace the cooler air passing over. The structure of cotton is ideal for this along with being able to absorb sweat. Sweating helps to keep us cooler as excess heat from your body is used during the sweat’s evaporation from your skin. 

Whiter and lighter surfaces reflect more heat away than darker surfaces which will absorb more.  Using this scientific concept may help you to keep your car’s interior cooler in the form of a heat reflective car sun cover. Aluminium foil can be bought quite cheaply and can reflect heat away too. It doesn't melt until it reaches a temperature of around 660 degrees Celsius.

Using solar ventilation fans can help cool the surroundings by providing airflow. Such fans are better for the environment, as they don't rely on fossil fuels, and therefore don’t contribute to the greenhouse effect. They don't add to your energy bills, a bonus as energy bills are pretty high at the time of this post. In addition, fossil fuels are finite energy sources, unlike solar power. 

Sleeping

Consider sleeping downstairs. Since hot air is lighter than cooler air, it rises, enabling the upstairs to be warmer.

If you have to charge any gadgets like laptops or mobile phones, consider doing this in other rooms where you won’t be sleeping, since these will give out additional heat.

If you happen to share a bed with a partner, consider sleeping alone, as the heat due to the respiration from your body will cause the air to be even warmer around you.

Use damp sheets on your bed. This will eventually evaporate, using the heat around to do so. At night use cotton nightwear, bedding, including breathable mattresses when sleeping.  

Open or closed windows

Have windows open if there is a cool breeze outside, as it may then be cooler outside than inside, and the warmer air inside will replace the cooler passing air outside. Otherwise, if it is warmer outside, then it is better to keep windows closed.

Warmer showers

Consider having warmer showers, around about 30 degrees celsius. This may warm the skin initially. However, this results in an increase in blood flow to the skin, helping more heat to be taken away from the skin, helping one to cool down.

Where possible, try to stay in more shaded areas. You could even try carrying an umbrella, even though this is usually used to protect us from getting wet by the rain.

Closed or open curtains

If you have shiny curtains, consider closing them, as the lighter surfaces can reflect more heat away. Darker curtains, on the other hand, will absorb more heat and emit more heat into your home. Therefore, curtains of this colour should be kept open.  In Spain they are known to have shutters down during the day. 

Eating and drinking

Prepare and have meals that require less in terms of cooking. This will lead to less heating from the cooker. Try looking at this list of recipes.

Eat and drink during cooler times of the day, as the digestion process itself generates heat.

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Drink more water to replenish any that may be lost due to sweating.  Try looking at foods such as water melons and any others that may contain water.

Exercising

When we exercise, the rate of aerobic respiration increases, therefore we generate more heat and cause our body temperature to increase.  So it will be important to exercise caution here when considering what exercise to do and at what intensity.  

Wear lightweight, breathable clothing to allow airflow to help keep you cooler.  Lighter coloured clothing will help with this even more as such surfaces will reflect more heat away. If you ever feel it is too hot, then don’t force yourself to do any exercise.

And remember, drink plenty of water too.

And finally

Don’t forget to apply sunscreen before going out into the sun. And don’t travel unless it is absolutely essential if the temperature is forecast to be extreme.

And why not let me know about what things you use to keep cooler in hot weather. 


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