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20th Jul 2021

Here’s why Brits struggle with heat at home but not abroad

Maddy Mussen

And it’s not just due to our weak and frail nature

The Great British Heatwave is upon us and everything is melting. Ice lollies, roads, train cables.

It’s well known that us Brits can’t deal with heat very well. A case could be made for us not actually being able to deal with anything very well (we’re very melodramatic and snarky) – but heat is especially bad.

Turns out, we’re not just big babies wrapped in Union Jack nappies – there are actual scientific reasons behind Brits not being able to handle heatwaves at home. Moreover, these reasons help to explain why we are perfectly okay when off on our hot holibobs (yes I said it), but can’t seem to stand any above 25 degrees when we’re at home. Let me walk you through this, so you too can feel like less of a whingey Brit today:

1. Firstly, our bodies aren’t acclimatised

Much like how cold water swimmers have to build up resistance to freezing waters, your body is not just naturally going to be able to cope with near 30 degree heat when you’ve been living in rainy England all your life, with an old faithful average of about 13 degree celsius temperatures. (I looked this up, it’s genuinely 13 degrees).

Our climate is more acquainted with the conditions of scurvy than the conditions of sunshine, so your body simply isn’t ready when it gets hot all of a sudden.

2. We have far less access to air conditioning

Air con is a foreign holiday dream for Brits, not something we experience on the reg. The lack of air con means we literally have no breaks from the heat unless we sit directly in front of a fan the entire time for some brief respite.

We are also less likely to have pools, given that having a pool in Britain would be considered a laughable offence for about 99 per cent of the year. This means there is less opportunity for us to submerge ourselves in water to escape the heat, unless you run a cold bath and sit in it. But that just feels a bit sad.

3. Apparently we just don’t know how to take care of ourselves

In lieu of just straight up calling us stupid, an Australian climate expert mused that Britons may genuinely just be bad at looking after themselves in hot weather.

Dr Elizabeth Hanna wrote in The Advertiser: “[British people] don’t know how to take care of themselves, they stay out in the sun for too long and forget to drink plenty of water.

“People who are not at all used to warm weather, particularly when it’s getting a little humid as well, can overheat very quickly.”

I would personally rather watch the Australia episode of The Simpsons and quietly boil than take this advice from Dr Hanna, but that’s probably just my trademark British stubbornness.

Maybe we have to take the L on this one guys – we Brits are just terrible at handling heat. And now it’s immortalised in science.