Avoid a cold bath or shower as UK heatwave strikes expert warns – it’s ‘counterproductive’

Heatwave sweeps across Europe with record high temperatures

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The Met Office has issued a heat alert, and has predicted some parts of the UK to reach 28C this weekend. The incoming heatwave is expected to hit mid-30Cs by the middle of next week. As the weather intensifies, you may be tempted to have a cool dip in the shower or bath but think again.

According to bathroom expert, Dominic Lees-Bell from Drench.co.uk, this can actually prove “counterproductive”.

He explained: “Taking a cold shower or bath can actually be counterproductive as when our body is submerged in extremely cold conditions it tries to regulate our core temperature. This means you could actually feel hotter than you did before you tried to cool down.”

Instead, the expert recommends taking a hot bath to cool down during a heatwave.

“By taking a hot bath we are able to drop our body temperature as it stimulates our body’s thermoregulatory system. This increases the circulation of blood throughout our body and results in the removal of body heat and therefore a decreased body temperature.”

This advice is particularly beneficial at night, when it can be hard to drift off in the heat.

The National Sleep Foundation also advocates this method in heatwaves for this very reason.

Its online guide suggests that some people “do better taking hot showers and hot baths when the room temperature is very high”.

Your body temperature is lowest while we are sleeping, and according to the US National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute a hot bath is a great idea before bed as “the drop in body temperature after the bath may help you feel sleepy, and the bath can help you relax”.

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Other ways to cool down in a heatwave

A heatwave can leave you exposed to heat exhaustion and heatstroke so it’s vital to take steps to cool down.

Staying cool indoors is imperative and there are some simple ways of doing this.

The NHS says to close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.

“If going outdoors, use cool spaces considerately, keep your distance in line with social distancing guidelines,” advises the health body.

Other tips include:

  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals
  • Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide brimmed hat, if you have to go out in the heat
  • Avoid exercising in the hottest parts of the day
  • Make sure you take water with you, if you are travelling
  • If you are going into open water to cool down, take care and follow local safety advice.

You should also watch out for signs of heat related illness and take appropriate steps if you spot them.

“Generally, symptoms of heat stress include nausea, headaches and cramps, and a body temperature between 37 and 39˚C,” says Bupa.

Heat stroke is a more serious condition caused by a failure in your body’s natural temperature regulation.

According to Bupa, heat stroke has similar symptoms to heat stress but is more severe and the person may seem confused or aggressive, have a fit or lose consciousness.

“There may also be rapid pulse, headache, dizziness and dry, red skin,” warns the health body.

It’s vital that you seek medical attention immediately if you suspect heat stroke.

“Heat stroke can cause the blood to thicken and organs to be damaged, which can rapidly lead to organ failure and death. It is a medical emergency,” warns Bupa.

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