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The Strange Ways People Stayed Cool In The UK Heatwave

Turns out it wasn’t just people eating ice lollies this week.

Credit: Instant Vantage / Wikimedia Commons

July 18th and 19th of 2022 saw the UK’s hottest temperatures on record. In this unprecedented heatwave, citizens of the UK took to some…slightly more unconventional methods to keep cool.

On Monday, temperatures in the UK rose to 38.1C in parts of the country, while Tuesday saw this stat beaten, with some areas seeing highs of 40C. This is the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK.

The Met Office declared a red extreme heat warning to many counties—something they’d never had to do before. Alongside this red weather warning, they issued tips for UK residents on how to cope with the heat.

Primarily, these included: don’t travel unless absolutely necessary, keep windows and curtains closed, and drink lots of water.

Outside of these official suggestions for coping with the cold, many people in the UK turned to their own (and perhaps unique) ways of keeping cool.

Gritters in the Summer

Credit: Craig Wallace / Geograph

Everyone is familiar with winter gritters: they’re big trucks that spread salt on the roads to remove the danger of ice to driving cars. But during the UK heatwave, the gritters were brought out in summer in order to prevent any damage to the roads caused by the heat.

In Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Hampshire, and Warwickshire, gritters were employed to protect the roads.

The science behind using gritters in the heatwave is pretty simple. Where, in the winter, gritters usually spread salt, in the summer, gritters spread sand or stone dust. On roads under threat of melting in the heat, the sand and stone dust acts almost like a sponge, soaking up any excess bitumen.

PE kits instead of school uniform during UK heatwave

Credit: KeithJJ on Pixabay

One of the groups most likely to suffer in the heatwave are students—especially those in secondary school, expected to wear blazers and maybe even a tie. Under the extreme weather conditions, some schools encouraged their students to wear their PE kits instead of their uniforms.

Other schools started and finished earlier in the day in order to avoid the hottest part of the day. Some closed completely.

Wrapping bridges in foil

In the case of extreme weather conditions, some might have thought to cover their car window in foil, or even their house’s windows. But did anyone expect for some bridges to be wrapped in foil? Well, this was the case for Hammersmith Bridge in London.

Hammersmith Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world, and its massive mental chains posed quite a risk in the soaring temperatures. By wrapping the chains in foil, the sun could be reflected away to stop overheating.

To show the necessity of these measures, it’s important to bear in mind that the chains are kept under 13C in the summer, and if any reach over 18C, the bridge has to be shut down.

Animals given ice lollies for the UK heatwave

Humans weren’t the only ones having to deal with the heat. While some worried about looking after pets in the heat:

The zookeepers at London Zoo had some slightly bigger animals to keep cool.

London Zoo’s solution was to give their animals ice lollies. Zookeeper Rob Harland said: ‘Primates such as the gorillas and squirrel monkeys love an ice lolly, just like us.’

Staying cool in the UK this week has caused a lot of chat online with people sharing tips, but it didn’t cause anything close to the internet buzz after the iconic lofi girl video on YouTube was briefly taken down.

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