How to stay cool in the heat

It's day two of New Zealand's heat wave and already the roads are melting, we have been told to stay off the beer and warned we might need to prepare for a national emergency.  

Most Kiwis are enjoying basking in the sun with temperatures soaring past 30degC in many areas on Monday, hitting a high of 37degC in the Hawke's Bay and 36degC in the Marlborough Sounds.  

For many the heat will just be the inconvenience of sweaty days or sleepless nights. But for some, such as the very young or elderly, there are genuine health concerns, so here is Newshub's guide to not getting too hot under the collar during the heatwave.  

Keep your house cool 


Keep your windows open at night - this lets out hot air and allows cooler air to circulate. 

Turn your fans around, face them towards an open window so they can blow the hot air out of the house.

Put a bag of ice in front of the fan so it blows cold air. 

How to stay cool in the heat
Photo credit: Niwa

Keep your curtains closed during the day to keep out the sun then open them at night to let out the heat. 

Turn off unused appliances as they can heat up. Also restrict using heat generating appliances such as your oven or hairdryer. 

Out and about 


It's probably not the best time to start training for a marathon. Only go outside if you have to. 

If you do venture out, then wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen.   

Try and avoid the peak heat times of 11am-3pm, particularly for children and elderly people.  

Don't leave children in the car while you nip in to the shop, it can be lethal as the temperature inside can rise very quickly. 

Getting a good night's sleep 


Warm days mean hot, muggy nights, making it hard to get a decent sleep. 

One night tossing and turning is okay but when it stretches over three or four nights it gets unpleasant. 

According to Dr Alex Bartle from the Sleepwell Clinic, in order to sleep there has to be a drop in your core body temperature. 

"So if it's too hot in our environment, we can't get rid of the heat and we can't sleep," Dr Bartle said. 

Depressed man suffering from insomnia lying in bed
Photo credit: Getty Images

Ways to keep cool include filling your hot water bottle with cold, icy water and place it by your feet. 

You can also put your sheets in the freezer to cool them down. 

Keep some water by your bed and keep hydrated. 

Kick your partner out of bed. If you have a spare room then sleep in separate beds. 

If you have young children then try and keep their room cool as they can't regulate their temperature as well as adults. 

And Dr Bartle says if you really can't cool down then get up and maybe head outside and look at the stars for a bit. 

Keep an eye on the elderly and the young 


Canterbury District Health Board medical officer Alistair Humphrey told Newshub Kiwis should not be complacent, saying the weather is at an extremely dangerous level that may be closing in on being a national emergency.

Mr Humphrey said elderly and young children were particularly vulnerable, and people should make sure elderly relatives are stocked up on fluids.

"Elderly people, who don't regulate heat quite as well, are coming into emergency departments dizzy, not having drunk enough," he said. 

Stay off the booze


Heat waves and a cold beer go hand in hand, but hitting the booze too hard can be harmful. 

Drinking too much alcohol during warm temperatures can lead to heatstroke.

Alcohol interferes with the regulation of water levels in the human body, causing you to urinate more. 

As your body runs out of water, dehydration may set in, causing headaches, dizziness and confusion.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 6: Drunk punters wrestle at the end of the day during the Lexus Melbourne Cup Day at the 2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival
Photo credit: Getty Images

"If someone's not wearing a hat and they're in the sun, or if you think someone's not drunk enough water - or, in particular, if you think they've had too much alcohol, because that will also dry you out - I think a bit of friendly advice can often stop someone from ending up in the emergency department," said Mr Humphrey.

Take care of your pets


Vet Charlotte Hviid told Newshub dogs and cats find it harder than humans to cool down, as they can only sweat through their paw pads and tongues.

She says it's up to pet owners to ensure their animals stay cool during the hottest time of day, which at the moment extends from about 9am to 7pm.

Ms Hviid's tips include wrapping pets in a wet towel to cool them down, making sure they have access to shade when left alone and only walking dogs in the early morning or evening to avoid the heat.

How to stay cool in the heat
Photo credit: Getty Images

She also has advice for the owners of birds and horses, such as placing birdcages in breezy areas and not riding horses in the middle of the day.

And don't leave pets inside cars in the heat