I was not surprised to read the other day that painting your home white can, in some way, act as a sort of natural air conditioning to keep the home cool and protected from heatwaves.
Health chiefs believe that such a simple way of counteracting a clammy atmosphere is beneficial. Other advice includes installing metal blinds and dark curtains, and putting a damp cloth on the back of the neck in hot weather.
A forty-six page document issued by NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) also recommends that people eat cold food such as salad and fruit and avoid alcohol and caffeine. It aims to prevent seasonal deaths and prepare officials in the event of a heatwave.
Temperatures need only rise to 76.1 Fahrenheit (24.5 Celsius) for people to start dying, the document reveals. It is part of the response to the devastating pan European heatwave of 2003 which saw more than 20,000 people die including 2,000 in the UK after the warmest summer in 500 years.
Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, warned that such heatwaves could be ‘normal by 2040’. She said: ‘as a result of climate change we are increasingly likely to experience extreme summer temperatures that may be harmful to health. We want to make sure that everyone takes simple precautions to stay healthy during periods of hot weather and when in the sun.’
Doctor Angie Bone, head of extreme events at PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, reminded Britain that exposure to excessive heat can kill. She said: ‘While hot weather is enjoyable for most people and uncomfortable for some, sadly experience tells us that exposure to excessive heat can kill, with most cases of illness and death caused by heart and lung disease.’
I know for a fact that, miraculously, white paint and high ceilings are almost a natural deterrent for a heatwave. Our apartment, which fortunately has both of these factors, is as cool in the summer and healthier than any air conditioning can provide. So there is perhaps some madness in the latest discovery but I can assure you it works – at least for us!