Find out all you need to know about keeping safe during this national heatwave – whether you’re here, at home, or holidaying away!
The UK’s first ever red weather warning has been issued this week, and while it means holidaying at home feels more like being abroad, experts are warning we take the heatwave seriously.
Temperatures are due to reach over 40C over the next couple of days, with schools, workplaces, and even transport links being affected by the record-breaking heat.
Health professionals are encouraging us to enjoy the unprecedented weather – but there’s a huge push on staying savvy and sensible when it comes to living in this extreme heat.
In this blog post, we’ll cover a range of sub-topics from how to stay cool in a caravan during a heatwave, top tips on keeping dogs safe in this heat, and also a spotlight on sun awareness and the dangers of over-indulging in sunlight.
How to stay cool in a caravan during a heatwave
Due to the size and structure of holiday homes (or static caravans), they’re not the best for staying cool as a cucumber in during bouts of extremely hot weather. Here are some super-easy tips on keeping your caravan cool this summer, whether you’re a holiday guest or a holiday home owner:
1. Open the windows
It may sound simple, but adequate airflow is the beast and most cost-effective way of cooling your caravan. Open the windows on the side of your caravan that’s in the shade, or add protect yourself more against the sun and UV rays with ‘window films’
2. Close the blinds
Reduce the amount of direct sunlight – and heat – infiltrating your caravan by shutting the blinds or curtains. Although keeping the sunlight out might seem like a shame on a hot day, this is a great way to regulate the overall temperature of the small space.
3. Turn off your appliances
Ovens, kettles, grills, hairdryers – keep them off! Try avoiding unnecessary use of other electrical items, which can produce heat and waste energy when they’re being used. Try changing to LED lighting from Halogen – they’re known to generate a lot of heat when in use.
4. Cook outside
It may seem obvious, but using the oven is a sure way to increase the temperature in your holiday home. Why not try having a BBQ outside under shelter during a heatwave, or in the shade, or try enjoying cold foods like salads which don’t require cooking.
5. All shades on deck
If you enjoy sitting outside, or if you’ve opted for a holiday home with decking, try creating an area of shade. There are plenty of outdoor furniture items such as parasols, heat-absorbing canopies, plus more. This may also help you keep the temperatures indoors cool if you have the windows open.
6. Raise the roof
All holiday homes are now being built with roo and wall insulation which helps keep the caravan warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Speak to your aftersales representative today or check the specific model of your holiday home if you’re unsure!
7. Invest in fans
There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned air fan to keep you cool in a caravan. You can always invest in a portable air-conditioning unit, which can be purchased from many high street stores or homeware shops.
8. Get rid of heavy interiors
Swap your thick winter curtains for thin cotton or sheer ones that still give you privacy, but the light, breathable fabric will keep the sun out and the summer bugs at bay.
9. Sleep sweat-free
Try cotton sheets and a low-tog duvet which is not only space-saving but also breathable! Don’t forget your cooling pillows, especially for the kids.
Keeping pets cool in a heatwave
- Check the doggy down-low on the area you’re visiting and if there’s any pet-friendly restaurants. This will save time travelling in a hot car and distressing your dog.
- It’s always best to check your accommodation beforehand – does it have air conditioning, are you allowed to leave pets alone in the holiday let, or will you have to take them out with you?
- When travelling, ensure you have a water bowl and plenty of airflow in the vehicle. Try avoiding lots of cushions and pillows as these can be hot and stuffy.
- Keep your car in a shaded spot the night before you travel, or at least a few hours before you travel, so it’s not scorching for your dog and other passengers.
- Keep your windows open or your air conditioning on, but try and refrain from letting your dog hand their head out of the window. Stop for regular toilet breaks and for your dog to get some fresh air instead.
- Look up details of vets near the place you’re staying, just in case – of course, this isn’t something you want or expect, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Invest in a cooling collar or coat
- If your dog begins panting, this means they’ve become too hot and is unable to regulate its body temperature.
Sun Awareness – what’s it all about?
Sun Awareness is the British Association of Dermatologists annual campaign to raise awareness of skin cancer. The campaign runs from April to September annually and includes Sun Awareness Week in May. The campaign is two-pronged and combines prevention and detection advice. The first aim is to encourage people to regularly self-examine for skin cancer.
The second is to teach people about the dangers of sunburn and excessive tanning. It’s also to discourage people from using sunbeds, in light of the associated risks of skin cancer. In addition to public education about the dangers of sunbed use, the BAD has also been involved in campaigning for legislation to regulate the sunbed industry.
The parts we have to put in to show you how serious sun damage can be
According to No Time To Lose, “Worldwide, non-melanoma skin cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer, with an estimated 2-3 million cases registered every year. In Britain, there are at least 1,500 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and 240 new cases of malignant melanoma linked to solar radiation exposure at work diagnosed each year.”
How dangerous is the UK sun during a heatwave?
Tropical climates with soaring temperatures are what we could all do with this year. But how many of you end up snoozing through the first few days abroad? Forgetting once or twice to apply sun cream from your sunlounger slumber, before emerging from the pre-dinner shower looking like an unappetizing tub of vanilla and strawberry swirl ice cream?
Well this week, the sun is as dangerous – if not more – as the rays abroad.
I know what you’re thinking: burning in Britain isn’t as bad as burning abroad, right? But that’s where you’re wrong. There are many factors to support the notion that any sunburn is bad, but first, let’s take a look at UV rays. According to public health matters: “A sunburn is the sign of damage to the body from over-exposure to UV radiation and may lead to premature skin ageing. It isn’t just in the summer or on holiday that we can suffer the ill effects of the sun.”
What about suncream – does that still exist?
According to the BDA, 8 out of 10 people don’t apply suncream before sunbathing. Furthering that, 80% of us fail to apply it at all prior to a sun-basking sesh…but then apply it afterwards?! The experts highlighted a threefold criterion. One, make sure that the product is fully absorbed before the skin is exposed to the sun. Two, reduce the chances of areas of skin being missed. And three, ensure a thick enough layer is applied.
Listen to the experts and reapply that sunscreen every two hours – something that 70% of us admitted we didn’t do! Don’t forget to clue up on your SPFs (sun protection factor) which tells you how long the sun’s UVB rays would take to redden your skin. So, if you use an SPF 30 product properly, it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you used no sunscreen. No matter which SPF you use, you really should reapply your sunscreen every two hours or after every swim in the sea or pool.
So what does suncream actually do?
Whatever you call it – ‘suncream, sunscreen, sunblock’ – the handy little liquid does exactly what it says on the tin. It screens, blocks (actually, ‘creams’ doesn’t really work here, does it?) the sun from your precious skin. To get all scientific: “Sunscreen works by blocking and absorbing UV rays through a combination of physical and chemical particles. Physical particles, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are used to reflect UV radiation from the skin. At the same time, complex chemical ingredients in sunscreen react with radiation before it penetrates the skin, absorbing the rays and releasing the energy as heat.”
In other words, it’s really good for you – but sunblock/cream/screen alone isn’t enough to keep you protected 100%. It can certainly minimise your risk of cancer and ageing. It can also reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by about 40% and lower your melanoma risk by 50%. But you will need to do additional things to protect yourself against the sun.
How else can I protect myself against the sun?
The majority of us would savour the sunshine right now. But when it’s scorching for days on end in summer, it seems the grass is always greener, quite literally, in the spring when it’s not parched. That being said, here are some pointers on how to stay safe in the sun this summer:
- By all means, enjoy the sun. Just try to find some shade when the sun is at its strongest between 11am – 2pm.
- Use factor 50 suncream, minimum
- Stay hydrated
- Keep babies 6 months and under out of direct sunlight
- Infants should be kept out of the sun as much as possible
- Wear loose cool clothes
- Ventilate and shade off your rooms to create cool spaces during the day
- Re-apply that sunscreen!
This hot weather can be enjoyed safely, as making those integral changes won’t be too hard but they can be life-changing.