The Australia summer brings a lot of fun with plenty of barbecues and trips to the pool or beach. But it also has a more dangerous side – overheating can be a real health risk especially for vulnerable age groups such as babies and the elderly.
Keep your body temperature regulated by:
- Wearing light coloured clothes to let the heat escape.
- Drink plenty of water and keep your fluids up.
- Slip, slop and slap when outside in the sun with a wide hat, long clothes and high SPF sunscreen.
- Try to rest in the hottest parts of the day and avoid strenuous activities.
- Stay in the shade where possible.
- Wet some clothes such as a shirt, headband or washcloth to put on your forehead, back of the neck or pulse points such as wrists and joints. The water will evaporate and help you to cool down.
- Wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel to hold against your body.
- Carry around a spray bottle to mist yourself and your children with water.
- Eat cold items like ice blocks, icy poles and frozen slices of fruit.
In your home
If you don’t have air conditioning in your house, there are a number of savvy ways you can keep your home cool:
- Block out all sunlight by using curtains or window shades. Light coloured or reflective shades on the outside of the house are the most effective.
- Keep doors closed in the hottest part of the day and open them to make the most of the cooler air at night.
- Place a bowl of ice in front of a fan so that cool air is pushed out into the room.
- Buy a paddle pool for the backyard for you, children and pets to sit in. Don’t forget to supervise young children and provide fencing for safety.
- Use cotton sheets on your bed and a light blanket instead of flannel and wool, both materials that are designed to keep you warm.
- Make sure your ceiling fans are set to counterclockwise, clockwise fans will create an updraft and pull warm air down.
- Switch your light bulbs to fluorescent lights, and turn off any electrical appliances that aren’t being used because they emit heat.
Keeping pets cool and safe is a priority in summer. These are some things you can do to make sure they’re comfortable:
- Give them access to plenty of shade, and bring them inside on heatwave days if possible. Smaller animals such as birds, rabbits and guinea pigs are most susceptible to the heat.
- Pets’ water bowl should be checked and topped up often.
- Give them ice cubes or frozen chunks of vegetables to chew on.
- Spray water onto your pet if they have a lot of fur.
- Place a frozen water bottle in their cage or bed so that they can lean against it and regulate their own temperature.
- If you have larger dogs in a backyard, consider buying a play pool that they can wade in. Make sure to take all proper precautions of fencing and supervision if young children are sharing the space.
For further information, check out the City of Melbourne’s fact sheet for keeping safe in a heatwave.