Temperatures are beginning to rise as the start of summer hits, and with severe heat causing more deaths in Australia than any other natural hazard it is time to prepare for the hot days ahead.
The people most at risk of heat-related illnesses, such as cramps, exhaustion, heat stress and dehydration do need others to check on them regularly.
Make sure elderly family members, neighbours and friends have someone who can check on them at least once a day - be sure they have water in the fridge, have a cool place to sit and relax and regularly drink water so they do not dehydrate.
The people who are at most risk include:
- elderly people aged over 75 years, babies and young children;
- people with long-term health conditions such as heart or respiratory disease, diabetes or circulatory diseases;
- people taking certain medicines;
- people who are socially isolated;
- people who work outdoors or in hot and poorly ventilated areas;
- people who engage in vigorous physical activity in hot weather;
- people who are not acclimatised, such as overseas visitors.
There are ways to help keep cool over summer, some of which do not take too much effort.
Stay out of the sun, eat smaller cold meals, have plenty of cold drinks, stay in the coolest room of the house, wear light-coloured loose clothing and take cool showers or baths.
Keep cool with ice packs or cold, wet hand towels on the back of the neck and under the armpits or use a spray bottle to spray around the body.
The home can be kept cool by shutting curtains and blinds and not using the stove or oven.
When using a fan to keep cool why not put a bowl of ice, or a large ice pack in front of it for some extra chill in the air.
If there is no air conditioning visit the library, shopping centre or cinema for some relief from the heat.
Keep your animals cool
Animals also need the basics to keep cool - if they can be kept inside then do so - if not be sure there is shade at all times when they are outside.
Provide plenty of water for them to drink by ensuring there is more than one source which is kept in the shade.
To help keep water cool fill a balloon with about a litre of water, tie it off tightly and put it in the freezer.
When frozen burst the balloon and put the huge ice-ball in the water container for a refreshingly cool drink.
Put a small plastic pool in the shade so the animal can wade around and keep cool – safety is a must if small children can access the pool.
Wildlife also need to be cared for so leave small bowls of water around the garden and put the bird bath in the shade before filling it.