Thursday, 18 July 2013

Heatwave Warning

   Living in the UK generally gives a wide range of weather, without reaching any real extremes. The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was an unimpressive 38.5C in 2003. Compared to the degrees that some countries are reaching at this point in the year that is nothing. But for those of us living here and living most Springs and Summers since our last heatwave in 2006 with temperatures on average in the low 20s and then with regular rain to cool us off, we are finding it difficult as it reaches beyond 25C every day and is predicted to exceed 30C every day for at least the next three days.
This is what has prompted a heatwave warning from the UK's Met Office. Especially noted is that the UK doesn't have the facilities to help people in temperatures like this- very few homes have air-conditioning(we certainly don't, just a couple of table-top fans. And it's probably only a very small percentage who have swimming pools easily at hand to use as a cooling aid. I remember hearing the new of a heatwave on the news in 2003 and going into a total panic. "...those with long term illnesses need to take extra care..." By being told that I needed to be extra vigilant, when I had no idea that I really needed to be watching for anything just sent me into a panic. My Epilepsy dictates my life to a certain extent- my body doesn't like extremes of any kind of stress, be that a fever, a shiver, a migraine, or indeed outside influences- including heat-waves. And my ME is just a pain in the behind when it comes to extremes of temperature! 
   I flake in the Winter when it's cold and I flake in the Summer if it's hot. We had an extreme Winter (well UK extreme!) this year as well, and I managed that quite well. 
   I am watching myself day-to-day. I know I can't sit in the garden when it's hot, so I leave that for the evening, some days that has had to wait beyond 7pm. I managed a little weeding last 8 o'clock in the morning! I am finding activities for indoors and enjoying them. My sewing has taking pride of place and I've taken more pleasure from using the fabric in my stash and inventing. Knitting at the moment is a no-no as my hands are too sticky, and my concentration is just not working so trying to have a conversation is difficult as is writing and reading or doing anything particularly important like filling in forms.
So I'm happy with my lot and listening to audiobooks, sleeping every afternoon if the heat becomes too unbearable, and generally taking it easy.

Hot tips!
-open the back door when the temperature indoors becomes higher than outdoors, to level it off and create a breeze.
-fill a jug or bottle with water and keep it in the fridge for cooling drinks
-have cooling smoothies or milkshakes as a summery breakfast or lunch
-avoid using the oven and if you have to leave it until later in the day when a window or door can be opened to let  the heat out.- I steamed a joint of gammon last night and it is now going to make up the mainstay of our meals for the next few days. We will cook with the microwave or grill if necessary.- Couscous is a great option now as it's just cooked in a bowl of boiled water, salad vegetables are readily available and most vegetables can be cooked really quickly if they're chopped small enough and stir-fried.
-And if you really don't fancy cooking a whole meal, go out to a restaurant, let someone else cook for you or buy a pre-cooked chicken from the local deli!
-try an alternative to a hot water bottle with an ice pack from the freezer (wrapped in a tea towel so you don't scald yourself) 
-take it easy! most things can actually wait another day/week/month and if they are obligations, people would understand if someone couldn't attend because of flu in the middle of winter...
-if I do leave the house I go early in the morning, or in the evening.
-we went to the local fete last weekend, very well prepared, with a large bottle of cold water in a freezer bag with some plastic beakers (we shared it out to a privileged few!) I also took a hand-held battery-powered fan, wore cool layers, a hat and sunglasses and we took a picnic rug so that we could sit down and enjoy the shade once we'd eaten our burgers and ice-creams!
If you have any more tips I will be pleased to share them.