Australia’s summers are notorious for heatwave conditions, which can effect vulnerable people – particularly children, pets, and the elderly. Make sure you and those around you stay safe throughout the intense hot days by following these helpful tips.
5 Things You Must Do When It’s Hot
- Never leave children or pets locked in a car
- Watch out for others – especially babies and older people
- Drinks lots of water – stay hydrated
- Stay out of the sun as much as possible
- If outside. dress well and cover up
Cool Tips To Beat The Heat
- No access to air conditioning? Then go to a public library, cinema or a shopping centre
- Don’t fan yourself – it requires energy, making you even hotter. Instead, sit still and dab yourself with ice cubes
- Wrap individual ice cubes in a towel or plastic bag and place them directly on your pulse points – your body’s quickest cooling spots. These include wrists, neck, and inner elbows and knees.
- Splash cold water on your face and neck, put wet towels on your head, neck and arms, or soak your feet in cool water.
- If you’re wearing a hat, pour ice cold water into it then quickly place it on your head.
- Soak a headband or your socks in cold water before putting them on.
- Have a sponge bath or a cool (not cold) shower or bath. Soaking in a bath lowers your body temperature considerably.
- Fill a spray bottle with water and put it in the fridge until it’s cold. When you’re going outside take it and mist yourself with a refreshing spray.
- Eat spicy foods. People in hot countries eat hot foods. When we eat spicy foods we sweat. When we sweat our bodies cool down.
Tips for Caring for Children
- Never leave children unattended in parked cars for even a few minutes. Winding the windows down is ineffective – vehicles heat up to potentially fatal levels in minutes.
- Give them lots of water to drink – even if they don’t feel thirsty.
- Give them ice blocks to suck on – they’ll feel cooler on the inside.
- In the cooler part of the day let them have an ice cube ‘fight’ in a shaded area outside.
- Organise quiet activities such as reading or board games.
- Watch movies featuring snow and ice – e.g., ‘Happy Feet’, ‘Ice Age’ etc. – because they subconsciously imply coolness.
- If possible, take them to a cinema or ice skating rink.
Tips for Older People
- Carefully watch older people. Check on them twice per day.
- Ensure they have plenty of water and fresh fruit in the fridge.
- Give them ice blocks to suck on.
- Ensure they dress in light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibres like cotton.
- Encourage them to stay in the coolest part of the house
Tips for Adults
- Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Add some mint to your water as this creates a cooling sensation, making the water taste even more refreshing. Chamomile, Dandelion leaf, hibiscus, and raspberry leaf can also help.
- Sweating helps your body cool down – but if you do sweat, you must drink replacement fluids and stay hydrated.
- Don’t drink alcohol, caffeine or sugary drinks (like soft drink) because they dehydrate you.
- Don’t eat big meals as it forces your body to work hard to digest. Regular, light snacks (e.g., salad & fruit) are best to maintain energy.
- Eat fruits like watermelon, rockmelon, honeydew and grapes, etc – but chill them first.
What to Wear
- If you have to be outside, remember the five ‘S’s
- Slip (on a shirt)
- Slop (on sunscreen)
- Slap (on a hat)
- Slide (on sunglasses) and
- Seek shade
- Wear moisture-wicking fabrics as they pull moisture away from your body, making you feeling cooler
- Wear thongs or sandals because they help keep your body temperature down, by allowing heat to exit your feet and your sweat to evaporate faster than in closed shoes.
Tips for Your Pets and Local Wildlife
- Keep your pet off hot pavements as this can burn tender paws, and because animals are closer to the ground.
- A body wrap, vest, or mat – soaked in cool water – will help prevent your pet from overheating.
- Because animals respond to heat differently than humans, fans don’t help them as much as they help people.
- If your pet seems to be in discomfort, try wetting its feet and misting water onto its face. This is good for dogs, cats, ferrets, poultry and caged birds, as many animals control their temperature through their feet. However, never saturate a bird’s feathers as this can cause them to go into shock.
- Rabbits and guinea pigs are particularly susceptible to heat. They – plus other small animals such as ferrets, kittens and puppies – cope best if brought inside. Leave them on the cool tiles in the laundry or bathroom.
Tips for Cats
- Cats can quickly dehydrate so make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water – especially if they’re outside on hot days
- Create a ‘snug retreat’ for your cat by lying a cardboard box on its side in a quiet spot in the house
- Line it with a towel or cotton fabric
- Stick an ice pack inside a sock and place it underneath the towel for added cooling
- Put towels or sheets over places where your cat usually likes to sit to create a cool barrier between it’s fur and the warmer surfaces. Or fill a plastic bottle with very cold water for it to lie on.
Tips for Dogs
- Dogs can quickly dehydrate so make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water – especially if they’re outside on hot days.
- Ensure your dog has adequate shade, for example –
- Tree shades and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow.
- A doghouse does not provide relief from the heat – in fact; it only traps heat and makes it worse.
- Only walk your dog in the coolest parts of the day and try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
- Panting is a major way that dogs cool down. If they’re panting, it’s helping them.
- Give your dog a frozen treat. Take some peanut butter or another favourite food – put it in a kong and freeze it.
Tips For A Cooler Home
- Be prepared: stock up on food and necessities, so you don’t have to go out during a heatwave.
- Organise a small emergency kit in case of a power failure. Include:
- a first aid kit
- a torch and batteries
- candles and matches
- a battery-operated radio
- Stock the fridge with cold water, and the freezer with ice cubes.
- Keep Aloe Vera gel in the fridge and dab it on for an instant cool relief for when you come in from the outside.
- Have fans ready – they help circulate air and can make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.
- Keep the home cool by closing windows and doors, curtains and blinds. Then open everything up again in the evening for cooler air flow.
- Create a cool area or room to retreat to during extreme heat. Ideally, it should be facing east or south.
- Fill buckets with iced water and place them at various points around the house.
- Soak towels and hang them across any windows facing the sun.
- Build your own ‘air conditioner’ by placing a large bowl of ice in front of a fan. Position the fan, so it blows directly on the ice. As the ice melts, the surrounding air is cooled, and the fan blows that air toward you. Essentially this is a home-made evaporative cooler.
- If possible, stay downstairs because heat rises, so the ground floor will always be cooler.
Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep
- Fill a sock with rice and freeze it for a few hours, then put it in your bed. Rice retains the cold for hours thus keeping you cool.
- Put your sheets in a plastic bag and toss them in the freezer for an hour or two before bed.
- Do the same with your pillow-slips as this will cool your temples – one of your body’s quickest cooling spots.
- Soak a pair of socks, wring them out, pop in the fridge or freezer and then wear them to bed.