Stay Cool This Summer

Posted on December 01, 2018.

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While many of us enjoy a sunny WA summer, this time of year can also bring uncomfortably high and harmful temperatures. In fact the Australian Government’s Health Direct website says there were 430 deaths during the heatwaves of south east Australia in 2009 when some areas experienced three consecutive days of temperatures at or above 43 degrees Celsius!

Extremely hot weather is unpleasant for most of us but some groups are at a greater health risk than others during the harsh WA summer, including older people aged over 65 years, those living with long term health conditions and people taking certain types of medications.

Drink plenty of water

This may seem obvious but it’s important to drink water even when you are not thirsty during summer, to avoid dehydration. Avoid too many sugary, hot and alcoholic drinks as they can increase the risk of dehydration. Pay attention to your body – it will soon tell you if it isn’t getting enough fluids. Headaches, feeling dizzy, a dry mouth and darker coloured urine may be indications you are dehydrated.

Keeping your body cool

Keeping your body as cool as possible will help to prevent heat related illnesses. Stay out of the direct sun, drink cold drinks and eat cold foods such as salads and fruit. Freezing fruit such as bananas or watermelons and then blending them up into sorbets are an easy and refreshing treat to cool down with.

Take cool showers or baths if you feel hot and wear loose fitting clothes made of natural fibres.

Don’t forget to be sun safe. If you do have to be in the sun for a period of time, remember to wear a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.

Keeping the house cool

Shutting blinds and curtains during the day can keep the house cool and if you don’t have air conditioning, consider escaping to a shopping centre, movie theatre or library to stay cool. Reduce the use of your oven – it will definitely heat up your house! Switch to barbecues and salads instead to the keep the temperature down indoors.

Be prepared

Check the weather forecast and plan ahead if you are concerned the hot weather will affect you. It’s best to leave the house early if you are moving to a cooler location like a shopping centre and wait for the hottest part of the day to pass before making the trip home. If you need help with transport to a different location, make arrangements with relatives, friends or your home care provider if you have one, so you can enjoy a safe and air conditioned journey.

Food Safety

The Health Department of WA warns that food poisoning bacteria grows more quickly during warmer temperatures so remember to be food safe to avoid falling ill. Defrost foods in the fridge rather than the kitchen bench and ensure you are properly storing foods that need refrigeration. Try to keep the fridge door closed as much as possible and avoid overloading the refrigerator so the cold air can circulate properly.

Recognising heat related illnesses

The Health Direct website lists a number of heat related illnesses to look out for including their symptoms and what action you should take. Some of these conditions include heat rash, dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and perhaps the most serious one – heat stroke. Take some time to familiarise yourself with these illnesses and their symptoms so you are able to recognise them and seek medical attention early. Don’t delay and seek help immediately if you suspect you are experiencing any symptoms of heat related illness.

For more tips on how to stay cool this summer visit www.healthdirect.gov.au