As we get older, extreme heat in summer is not only uncomfortable – it can also be dangerous to your health. In Australia, heatwaves have caused the death of more people than any other natural hazard, and older people and those with a medical condition are particularly at risk. With this in mind and the prospect of increasing temperatures, it’s important to be informed and have a strategy in place to stay cool when a heatwave arrives.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) a heatwave is ‘three or more days where maximum and minimum temperatures are unusually high for a location’. With many parts of Australia experiencing heatwaves more regularly, protecting yourself and your loved ones is a must. So, in this article we’re sharing 5 simple ways to keep cool and stay safe when the mercury rises.
1) Stay informed about the weather
During summer, be sure to keep an eye on the forecast so a heatwave doesn’t catch you by surprise. Read the paper, watch the nightly news, or check online or via an app. When you know what the weather has in store for the week ahead, you can be ready in advance for extreme temperatures. The BoM website is a great resource, and also includes a Heatwave Assessment Service with severity ratings to help you prepare.
2) Drink lots of water
In hot weather, staying hydrated is so important, so keep a bottle or jug of water handy and drink regularly throughout the day. Try and stick to just drinking water in the heat as alcohol, coffee, tea and soft drinks will dehydrate you. If you crave something cold or with a hint of flavour, try adding ice blocks and a squeeze of lemon.
3) Keep your home cool
On a day of extreme heat, keep the curtain or blinds closed from early in the morning to reduce the amount of heat that enters your home. If you have fans or an air conditioner, use them to keep your rooms comfortable and turn them on before the house gets too hot. If you don’t have air conditioning, a tub of cold water under a fan helps to cool the air.
4) Keep yourself cool
If you’re struggling to keep the house at a comfortable temperature, there are a few different ways you can try to cool your body down. Have a cool shower, wipe a wet cloth over your skin or put your feet in a container of cool water. And if this fails to help, spend the day somewhere that’s air-conditioned if possible, such as a friend’s house, the cinemas, library or a shopping centre.
5) Be organised
When you know a heatwave is forecast, take some time to get organised so you can minimise the need to go outside in the heat. Do your shopping the day before and stock up on food and any medicines you need. Plan your meals so you spend less time cooking in the kitchen. And don’t schedule any activities that require you to be outside or be active until the temperature drops. Think about your pets too – move them into the shade if needed and give them plenty of water.
Be prepared and stay safe
By staying informed and preparing for extreme temperatures, you significantly reduce the risk of experiencing heat-related illnesses. However, it’s essential that you can identify the symptoms and act fast as some can quickly become severe or even deadly if left untreated.
Some of the common symptoms of heat-related illness that you can look out for include:
- Confusion, disorientation or delirium
- Hot, dry or pale skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate or fainting
- Muscle pain and cramps.
If you or someone with you is experiencing any of these symptoms, you can seek advice from NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 606 024, or in serious cases call 000 for emergency assistance.
Over to You
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