Those of us in the south-east will be experiencing a heatwave this week. In Adelaide, for example, a maximum of 45 degrees is forecast today, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Port Augusta in South Australia is also in for a hot one with the mercury tipped to reach 49!
Apart from concerns about bushfires, when the mercury rises one of the main considerations is people’s health. It’s on the record that heatwaves cause more deaths in Australia than all other natural disasters combined.
Some people are more vulnerable than others to the effects of heat. This includes babies, the elderly (over 75), people who have a health condition, or those who work outdoors.
In light of this, here are some tips for keeping your cool during our summer heatwaves.
Keep your body cool
Reduce outdoor activity. A heatwave is probably not the best time to start your new outdoor rigorous workout routine! If you do exercise outdoors however, do it early in the morning and follow it up with a cool shower.
Keep hydrated. Drink water regularly and avoid alcohol which can increase dehydration.
Keep comfortable. This includes wearing loose, light-coloured clothing, staying indoors as much as possible, and eating cold foods and meals. Splashing your face and body with cold water is also helpful.
Keep your environment cool in heatwaves
Keep the heat out! Closing the curtains early in the day can keep radiant heat out. Opening the windows overnight when the air is cooler creates cooling cross-breezes.
Use air-conditioning. Your air-conditioner should ideally be set to between 21 and 26 degrees, depending on your region.
Use fans, rather than air-con. Fans do not cool the air, but they can cool people through evaporation, and are relatively cheap to run.
Go somewhere cool. If you don’t have air-conditioning, consider going somewhere else that does. For example a shopping centre, cinema or library.
Does your home have enough insulation? Older homes may not include modern insulation, which greatly protects the home from heat.
Stay safe in the sun
Stay in the shade during heatwaves. If you do need to work or be outdoors, make sure to stick to shaded areas where possible.
Protect your body. This includes wearing sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and all-covering clothing. You should also stay hydrated by drinking water.
If you scheduled a task that involves lengthy time out in the open, try rescheduling it for a cooler day. As much as possible you should reduce your exposure to direct sunlight.
Take advantage of solar energy
Because the hottest part of the day is also when the sun is brightest, running your air-conditioner allows you to make the most of solar-generated energy. Using your own power also reduces pressure on the electricity grid, lowering the risk of blackouts in your area.
In addition, if you have solar battery installation, you may also be able to use any excess stored solar power to run your air-conditioner in the evening.