Pets, masks, food: Comfort tips as temperatures soar in France

Choose light-coloured clothing including face masks and do not expect a sorbet to cool you down for long

10 June 2021

With temperatures rising into the mid-30s this weekend, here's some advice on wearing facemasks in comfort, caring for your pets, and eating and drinking sensibly.

Summer facemask tips

Facemasks still have to be worn in many places in France until at least the end of June, Health Olivier Véran has said - but with the country set to sizzle in a hot spell this weekend, being out and about while wearing one could get uncomfortable.

As with clothes during a hot spell, light colours are recommended for a mask, as well as materials allowing better breathing, such as cotton or bamboo, British dermatologist Adil Sheraz has said to the BBC - an opinion backed up by French experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.

"In hot periods, we should favour masks which have, at a minimum, an inner or outer layer of cotton, so discuss it with your pharmacist," Olivier Gibert, spokesperson for the Association Française de Normalisation (AFNOR).

The CDC recommends masks "in light fabric and of light colour" in order to decrease the risk of stress related to the heat. Light colours are usually recommended in periods of strong heat, because they reflect sunlight, unlike black which absorbs heat.

Be aware, however, the Haute Conseil de la Santé Publique (HCSP) advises wearing disposable surgical masks and Category 1 fabric masks only.

Meanwhile, using water sprays is encouraged as a way to keep cool in hot weather, but take care not to spray your mask as this reduces its filtering capacity. 

"When the mask is wet, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, so it is recommended for each wearer to change the mask if it becomes wet or makes breathing difficult," Mr Gibert said.

And, finally, you should avoid touching it too much, or lifting it away from your mouth and nose even for a short period. If you do so, the Ministry of Health advises cleaning your hands with soap and water, or hand sanitiser.

Petcare

Pets are more sensitive to temperature changes than humans.

For your dog: get in the habit of walking your dog at times when it is still cool, generally before 09:00, and after 18:00. Avoid car journeys if possible - and never leave your dog in a hot car. Be aware also that hot road surfaces can burn your dog's paws.

For your cat: Cats tolerate heat better than dogs. But avoid letting it out between 12:00. and 16:00. If it does go out at these times, make sure there's shade and water nearby.

In periods of strong heat, buy moist foods for dogs and cats. For plant-eating animals, give them fruit and vegetables with a high water content - such as melons, watermelons, or cucumbers.

Leave water within reach of the animals throughout the day so that they can quench their thirst and use it to cool them down.

Dog: wet its paws and stomach.

Cat: carefully stroke your cat with a cool, wet glove, making sure you get their paws.

Rabbit: wet his ears and paws.

Birds: refresh the beak and wings.

Food and drink

It is advised to eat little and often - but not all food and drink is helpful. Here are some to avoid when the mercury's rising.

Red meat

Red, often fatty meat requires additional effort from the body to digest which will have the effect of increasing the body temperature.

Coffee

Don't worry - that morning wake-up hit is still okay, but be careful not to drink too much when it is hot, because it is a diuretic which means it helps remove water from the body.

Alcohol

In hot weather, alcohol consumption can be dangerous. Red wine and strong drinks should be avoided. 

Carbonated drinks

A cool can of fizzy soft drink may seem like a good idea, but they are not the best for staying hydrated - which is vital in hot periods. 

Frozen foods

A sorbet may seem the perfect foodie response to hot weather - but after the initial hit of cold, the body has to work harder to raise its temperature again. The result? A hot flush.

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