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How to stay safe during the heat in Sweden this summer

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
How to stay safe during the heat in Sweden this summer
Melcher, 7, gets a cold shower in the summer of 2020. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Sweden's summer is set to be a scorcher this year with meteorologists predicting a heatwave will hit much of the country. What can you do to stay safe once the mercury rises?


The high temperatures, climbing to over 26C in some parts this week, are unseasonal for Sweden, meaning that those of us who have acclimatised to the Swedish seasons can start to experience negative effects at lower temperatures than people in warmer countries.

Swedish buildings and infrastructure aren't built for extended periods of hot weather either, meaning dangerously warm temperatures indoors are more likely.

Below are tips and recommendations from Sweden's Public Health Agency and, an official website providing emergency information from Swedish authorities, on how to stay safe in the heat this summer.

Stay informed warns that the risk of heat stroke and dehydration increases once temperatures reach over 26 degrees for a prolonged period of time. This is especially true for those in risk groups, such as young children and pregnant women, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses or disabilities and people taking certain medicines which affect the body's ability to regulate heat.

Sweden's Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) issues high temperature warnings and drought warnings on its website, alongside other weather warnings, and we will keep you updated of any alerts here at The Local.

It's also a good idea to keep yourself updated on hosepipe bans, fire bans or other alerts during the summer season.


Stay hydrated

One of the most important ways to combat the heat is by staying hydrated. Even if there is a drought risk, you are allowed to use water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, so don't skimp on drinking water or taking cold showers to cool off this summer.

Don't wait to drink until you get thirsty either, as you'll already be a bit dehydrated by then. You can also eat foods with a high water content, such as melon, cucumber, and the best Swedish summer food: strawberries. 

You lose salts when you sweat, so you might find yourself craving salt or needing to add a bit of extra salt to your food. Don't overdo it though, or it may make you even more thirsty.

It's also a good idea to avoid drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, which are both diuretics and will increase the risk of you becoming more dehydrated. You should also avoid sugary drinks.

If you have children or you spend a lot of time around people in another risk group, remind them to drink, too.


Keep your home cool

Swedish homes are very well insulated which is great in winter, but less than ideal in summer, as it can take a long time for them to cool down once they've warmed up. To combat this, you can close your blinds or curtains during the day and open your windows at night when the air is cooler.

Try to open windows and doors in as many rooms as you can to encourage a good flow of air through your home which will help cool things down.

Cool yourself down

Try to avoid doing too much in the hottest hours of the day and stay in the shade if you can. Cool off by taking cold showers, swimming (although make sure the water is safe first - hot weather can cause toxic algae blooms), or by drinking cold drinks and eating ice cream, cold food with a high water content like chilled fruit, or other foods which can help keep you cool.

You can also try hanging a damp towel around your neck to cool down further.

Be sun safe

Protect your skin from the sun, too. Even if you grew up somewhere more sunny, your skin may have become more used to the Swedish climate, meaning it will need more protection against the sun. Wear a hat, suncream and sunglasses, and stick to loose, breathable clothing in natural fabrics rather than tight synthetic clothes.


Store medicines properly

Some medicines need to be stored under 25 degrees to be effective. A few days over that temperature may probably be alright, but check the packaging information for advice on what to do if the temperature rises above that.

You may be able to store them in the fridge, but make sure they're not affected by a high-moisture environment before you do so.

Keep an eye on yourself and others around you

Warning signals of dehydration or other illnesses caused by overheating include increased body temperature, pulse, breathing frequency, the onset of dizziness and unusual fatigue. A smaller amount of urine than usual or a dry mouth are both signs of dehydration.

If you're worried about yourself or someone close to you, you can call 1177 for advice 24/7. They offer advice in English around the clock, advice in Arabic and Somali between 8am and 10pm, and advice in Finnish between 8am and 12pm. In an emergency, call 112.


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