How to survive 40 degrees in London — your ultimate heatwave guide

·6-min read
 (Evening Standard composite)
(Evening Standard composite)

The heatwave should be peaking soon with a record-breaking, eyeball-boiling 40C.

Although we bear generational and individual responsibility for the climate apocalypse, it doesn’t mean we know how to cope with it. We don’t do siestas in London, air con is still regarded as a surprising novelty, and indeed most of us will likely be expected to carry on with our usual working days as usual.

On top of the key measures from authorities about hydration and staying in the shade (really, be careful), here’s some measures you can take to avoid ending the day as a small mound of human sand.

Scrap your usual travel


Transport for London are saying don’t travel unless you have to. However, those who feel they have to, should look at alternative options. The Tube is out, basically. Buses? Crazy talk. Anything under your own steam, cycling, running, skateboarding, just masochistic. However, Thames Clippers, AKA Uber Boats (, stop at 24 piers along the Thames and are likely to be just the wind-in-your-hair, raw-sewage-spray-in-your-face remedy that you need.

If that’s no use in your location, then it may well be time to finally hire one of the capital’s e-scooters. Get yourself a Lime ( and have a zero effort ride to your destination. Sure the likelihood of crashing is high – 1359 collisions in 2021 – but they have lovely cool morgues at the hospital.

Use cooling tech


A hand-held fan is a must: if you’re a vintage person go for a paper folding fan, but for those over the War, get yourself a HonHey 3-in-1 misting fan (amazon; £16.99), which will spray you as it wafts you; it’s guaranteed to annoy other people, but today is about survival not social etiquette.

Alternatively, FRIO Cooling Wristbands (; £3.75) apply cool temperatures to your pressure points. Or KoolPak Instant Ice Packs (amazon; £9) can just be tucked into your underwear. On the hydration front, buy a Corkcicle water bottle (; £65), which has three layers of insulation and will keep drinks cold for 25 hours (even though you’ll finish it in 7 minutes).

For a more eccentric tech choice – and who isn’t eccentric in the heat? – try a jelly pad gel mat (amazon, from £9.99). Cool in the fridge then curl up in a ball on top of it like a cat. Warning: if you do this in an office, best keep your clothes on.

Head to a gelato

Formerly known as ice cream parlours, gelatos are a must for lunch breaks. La Gelatiera in Covent Garden or Amorino on Old Compton Street are obvious wins, but why not try Chin Chin in Soho or Camden, where they use liquid nitrogen to make ice cream? Or even better, there’s Fabulous Ice Fires in East Dulwich is your best bet, another science lab for ice cream with the added bonus of an ultra-chatty team who’ll happily talk to you all afternoon about their business vision while you stay leaning against their freezers.

Plunge into paddling pools

If you’re sensibly working from home, why not go a step further and work from an adult paddling pool. The Intex Family Lounge Pool (amazon, £49) which is basically a giant wet office cubicle. Or, should the mood take you, the Sunnylife Sunset Pool (; £55) can fit three adults, perfect for modern polyamorists.

Dog owners can waste their money on a Foldable Pet Bath Tub (amazon, £25) which any animal will stay in for under 0.2 seconds. Children owners may wish to try an Inflatable Pirate Ship from George at ASDA (; £40); that being the case, also purchase an Umi watermelon pool (amazon; £24), fill it with margarita, put salt around the edge, and settle inside it.


Protect yours

Ideally you’d just smear yourself in wet mud like Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of Predator, but for those still on the dating scene, there are very good high factor sunscreen options. Australian brands are what you want, like Ultra Violette, whose Queen Screen Luminising Sun Serum (; £36) will not only protect you but actually give you a fresh rosy glow. Kiehl’s Ultra Light Aqua Gel (; £40) is also subtly powerful.

For those more insecure or amateurish – and I’m talking to the men here – try daubing yourself in Lifejacket’s handy mineral sun stick (; £15), which gives 50+ protection and remains reassuringly visible; you may look like the Joker but it’s better than missing a bit and turning into Harvey Two-Face.

Home coolants

Free-standing fans like the Dyson Pure Cool (; £350) are vital to bring not just lower temperatures but a bit of serenity as the capital turns to chaos. But with the way things are going an ice maker now rivals the indoor lavatory as a must for homes. Try the Fooing Ice Maker Machine (amazon; £140), which has a 2.2L water tank capable of producing 12kg of ice in 24 hours. Or what about the Klarstein Ice Volcano 2G Snow Cone Machine (; £215)? Need we say more?

Now we’re at it, an ice cream maker is probably a good idea too, like Cuisinart’s (, £100) which will do you ice cream, frozen yoghurt’s and sorbets. Kick out your partner and go to bed with it instead.


Go for frozen cocktails

Heading out in the evening until things cool down seems like a good idea. And let’s not mess around here: a moderately chilled lager in shadeless beer garden won’t pass muster when the city’s an inferno. The Frozen Cocktail Club in Dalston specialises in slushies called things like ‘Blue Hawaii’. Murder Inc in Fitzrovia offers a Frozen Banana Ramos mixing a kill-or-cure concoction on Jagermeister, banana milk, coconut cream, egg white and stout. But you’re probably best going route one, with bottomless margaritas at a tequila joint like La Bodega Negra. Drink until your gullet is blue enough to keep you cool all the way home, if you can still stand.

Head to an outdoors event

If indoor drinking seems like a bad idea, try one of the dining pods at the Secret Garden in South Kensington, where they even have a pop-up beach. Or try to bag tickets for the preview performance of 101 Dalmations at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, for some musical relief.

The Rooftop Film Club on top of the Bussey Building in Peckham is showing The Notebook, which is not a great film, but who cares? A few drinks watching attractive film stars against a nuclear sunset may be the perfect end to the worst day of your life.

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