Ways to beat the heat... and eating a curry’s not one of them

Today is the hottest day of the year so far
Today is the hottest day of the year so far
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As the Portsmouth area swelters, health experts warned that many tips to help beat the heat are nothing more than old wives’ tales.

Rubbing ice cubes on the wrists, tucking in to a spicy curry and drinking a hot cup of tea are all bandied around as good tricks to keep cool, but have no scientific basis according to the British Red Cross.

Wearing a wet T-shirt and avoiding alcohol, tea and coffee are better ways to cool down, while eating well-balanced, light and regular meals will also help.

Temperatures can be lowered in homes and offices by keeping curtains or blinds closed and by only opening windows at cooler times of the day. Turning off non-essential lights and electrical items will also make things more comfortable as these generate heat.

The charity warned that another common misconception is that heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the same thing.

They are not and heat stroke is potentially far more serious.

Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature becomes dangerously high due to excessive heat exposure, according to NHS Choices. The body is no longer able to cool itself and sufferers will have stopped sweating, meaning the body becomes dangerously over-heated.

Signs of heat stroke include dry skin, vertigo, confusion, headache, thirst, nausea, rapid shallow breathing (hyperventilation) and muscle cramps.

Heat stroke can develop with little warning and lead to unconsciousness within minutes so it is vital to cool the person down as quickly as possible by wrapping them in a wet sheet or any wet clothing and dialling 999.

Heat exhaustion is caused when the body has lost too much water, salt and sugars through sweating and can be treated by keeping out of the sun and cooling down.

Drinking plenty of water or an isotonic sports drink to replenish lost fluids will also help.

Joe Mulligan, head of first aid education at the British Red Cross, said: “Eating a curry might make you sweat a bit more which can cool the skin. But you’d be much better off ensuring you have plenty of fluids and staying in the shade than dishing up a vindaloo.

‘There is also a myth that putting ice cubes only on the wrists will cool the whole body’s blood flow. Heat escapes through the skin so the larger the area being cooled down, the better. Wearing a wet T-shirt and keeping it wet would be much more effective than ice on pulse points.’