16:52 at London Cannon Street and at last the train arrives. The crowds of commuters stand patiently aside to let the doors open and the few passengers ‘disembark’. (I know, why do rail companies use such an odd word, they’re getting off the train, not disembarking. Let’s keep it simple.) At an unspoken signal the commuters surge forward to get a seat on the train.
Hooray, I’m one of the first on so I get a seat – check. Facing forwards – check. Window seat – check. Row of two seats – check. (You always get more squashed in a row of three seats). Then as the train pulls out of the station, the lightbulb moment. Oh dear, I am showing myself up today as an amateur commuter. My lack of recent commuter experience is showing. Yes I’m sat on the ‘wrong’ side of the carriage. I’m going to be sat in the glaring sun all the way home.
I’m glad I no longer commute in and out of London on a regular basis, especially in a heatwave. It’s hard to stay cool & calm when it’s that sticky. London is just not geared up to deal with this type of oppressive heat. At one of my previous firms, I was once posted briefly to Washington DC. In the middle of their summer. If you think it’s hot and humid in England right now, that was something else.
Despite sitting in the burning glare of the sun all the way home, I still managed to feel relatively cool & calm. How did I do that? By following these top tips throughout the day.
Top tips to stay cool & calm in a heatwave
- At home, shut windows and pull down the shades to keep the heat out and the shade in.
- The sun is at its hottest between 11am and 3pm, so stay indoors at lunchtime to avoid the heat.
- Enjoy a cool bath or shower.
- During the day, splash yourself with cool water.
- Put a damp flannel in the freezer and then place on your pulse points to cool down.
- Drink cold drinks regularly through the day e.g. water and diluted fruit juice. NHS recommends that you avoid excess alcohol, caffeine (tea, coffee and cola) or drinks high in sugar.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors.
- Store the products you use every day e.g. suncream, lotions, toners etc in the fridge so that they feel cool to the skin when you use.
- Eat cooling foods e.g. salads, fruits, raw vegetables.
- Slow down – give yourself more time to reach your destination so that you are not having to rush, getting even more hot & flustered.
- When it’s hot and sticky, it can affect how people feel and respond. Be compassionate and make allowances if people are more grumpy than usual.
I’d spent the day in a beautifully air-conditioned office with a fridge full of cold drinks (I mostly drank coconut water but also a cup of tea at our mid-morning break) for my client’s VIP day. The venue also offered ice lollies as a sweet treat in the afternoon. Perfect on a day like today before stepping back out into the oven like heat of the London streets.
If you like these tips to stay cool & calm in a heatwave, especially when commuting, share with a friend. Leave a comment below – what’s your favourite way coping with a heatwave?