As Britain prepares for a scorching start to the week, when temperatures are predicted to soar to 40 degrees Celsius (or about 104 degrees Fahrenheit), many people will choose to stay home instead of trekking to the office, to school or even out for basic errands.
But while staying indoors may seem like a common-sense solution to beat the heat, it comes with its own set of dangers that should be carefully addressed to avoid raising the risk of heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Even during a relatively cool summer, one in five homes are likely to overheat, according to the British government. Apartments on the top floors of buildings and units with opening windows on just one side are also more prone to overheating, as are modern homes that are highly insulated.
To help control the temperature inside homes, government officials recommend several basic actions.
Turn off unnecessary lights.
If possible, shade or cover windows that are exposed to direct sunlight and use shutters if you have them. While blinds or curtains are cheaper options that are easier to install, they are also less effective at keeping the heat out. Dark curtains and blinds made of metal can also make a room hotter.
If the air outside feels cooler than inside, open the windows and try to get air flowing through the home.
Use a fan to help circulate the air.
In the kitchen, where there are multiple sources of heat, double check that refrigerators and freezers are working properly.
And in the evening and overnight, when temperatures may fall slightly, it’s wise to open windows to allow cooler air to move in, officials said. They also suggest temporarily relocating to a cooler part of the home for a more comfortable sleep.
In the United States, where extreme heat is more common, the Department of Energy recommends avoiding cooking and instead suggests preparing cool, light meals. Use cooler water to bathe, which will keep the body’s temperature down and won’t add unnecessary heat to the home.
Operating major appliances during the day can also add to the overall temperature of a home, officials said. Run dishwashers, washing machines and dryers at night and, if possible, dry clothes outdoors.