How to prepare for heatwaves this summer
17th January 2020
Summer is a wonderful period of festivity and coming together with family and friends.
However, as heatwave conditions are expected this season, it also brings with it notable challenges for many older Australians with regards to their health and wellbeing.
People who are over 65, living with a health condition and who have limited mobility, are at high-risk during extreme weather events. Here are our top tips to help look out for older members of our community during hot days this Summer:
1. Close the curtains and stay indoors
Make sure to lock the heat out and stay cool inside, particularly between 11 am to 3pm on hot days. If possible, install thick heavy curtains that can be drawn shut, and close up windows around the house.
As soon as there’s a cool change you can open up again and get the fan going to circulate the cool air.
2. Air-conditioning? Use it.
No one likes the bills from high electricity use, but in the case of a heatwave, your health and safety are most important. If you have access to air-conditioning remember to use it to keep your body temperature cool.
Don’t have air-conditioning? Use an electric circulating fan and regularly soak a flannel or towel to keep skin cool. Wrapping a couple of iceblocks inside can do wonders for quick cool relief.
3. Stock the fridge!
Make sure the fridge is fully stocked with small light meals. Cold fruit juices and even icy poles are a great option to keep energy levels up on hot days.
It sounds obvious, but hydration is key. That means reducing caffeine and alcoholic drinks, and increasing water intake of small amounts at regular intervals. You can also keep your temperature down by taking regular cool showers and dressing in light weight cotton.
5. Check in. Check in. Check in.
Whether it’s a neighbour, a carer or yourself, make sure to check in regularly on loved ones during days over 35 degrees. You can look for signs of heat stress by monitoring for muscle cramps, confusion and headaches, decreased appetite or hot, dry skin.
If you are experiencing severe symptoms please seek urgent medical support calling 000. You can also monitor updates on Heatwave Services in Australia available at the Bureau of Meteorology.
Further information on caring for elderly during temperature spikes available at Department of Health.