5 tips to stay cool and safe this summer 42



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For most Australians, the summer period is synonymous with high temperatures, longer days and an increased social calendar. However, in combination with increased physical activity and the rising mercury, summer can quickly become a catalyst for heat-related illnesses and injuries, particularly amongst older generations.

According to statistics, more than 2.5 million elderly Australians are at risk of serious injury due to heat-related illnesses. The increased heat can lead to hyperthermia, dehydration, heatstroke, cramps and rashes, all of which can be potentially fatal. But why are older Australians more vulnerable?

Registered Nurse and Founder of Prestige Inhome Care Nick McDonald, says that because the elderly are unable to cool themselves down to a normal temperature, they are more vulnerable to these types of illnesses.

“Older Australians are more prone to heat stress and exhaustion as their body does not cope well to sudden or prolonged temperature changes, and just a few degrees variation in body temperature can have a significant impact,” says Nick.

The signs of heat-related illness can be varied; they include hot and dry skin, nausea and vomiting, paleness, disorientation or the worsening of pre-existing medical conditions. To help manage and prevent heat-related illnesses, Nick has created his top five tips to make sure you stay safe during summer:

  1. Air flow – make sure your home is fully equipped with an air conditioner or electric fan with adequate cross ventilation
  2. Keep cool – things like wet towels and washers are a quick and easy way to cool down your body temperature
  3. Check in – make sure you not only look after yourself, but also check in on older friends, family or neighbours frequently, either by phone or in person to look for signs of heat stress or exhaustion
  4. Stay hydrated – ensure you drink plenty of water and fluid to stay hydrated during hotter days
  5. Be alert – it’s important to listen to your body and monitor any changes. When in doubt, seek professional advice.

For those who like to exercise regularly, Nick say it’s important to only participate in low-level activity on hotter days and to have a work-out buddy with you or notify family and friends where you are going and how long you will be.

“When exercising, make sure you monitor your heart rate and don’t overexert yourself because this can not only potentially make you sick, but long-term injuries are more likely to occur because the body is already tired from having to work harder in the heat,” says Nick.

“Always make sure you have an exercise buddy or notify family and friends where you will be so you have immediate help if something were to happen to you”.


Have you experience heat-related illnesses? What happened? How do you avoid it?

Guest Contributor

  1. I am finding it very hard to keep cool without using the air conditioner, I try my best to avoid putting it on because of the high electricity costs, you can put more clothes on in winter to keep warm but you can’t take off anymore than everything trying to keep cool

    9 REPLY
    • If you have an electric fan (uses little energy),and a spray mist bottle (about $2 in supermarket) use these to keep cool. Spray water into the air around you and lightly on yourself. Have the fan facing near you. As the water evaporates, it cools down the air around you and your body. Before retiring to bed, turn back the bed clothes, mist the bed and pillows, play fan across the bed. Do this until the bed feels cool. You will get a much better sleep.

    • A Cool Pillow from the Reject Shop is really good, put it in the fridge for 20mins then put your feet on it and it cools the body down. Can also put it under your pillow case to cool the pillow at night.

    • I can’t stand the heat. I always rip off all my clothes when I get home from an outing.
      My hubby can’t take the cold so we are complete opposites.

  2. We escape to a shopping centre where we take advantage of the air conditioning and I can do laps to get my exercise and my husband sits comfortably in the library.

  3. except this research is from colder climes – the most recent i read from Oz is that it is rubbish – in fact, very few older people suffer from heat-related illnesses, more fall over when it is cold-ish. Even in Brissie. Partic in Brissie, where the study was done, bcs homes are not heated. Depends what you are used to. Ozzies are used to the heat (partic older ppl who grew up with no air con); northern Europeans are used to cold. The human body is a miraculous thing, it adapts.

    4 REPLY
    • My sister was visiting from UK ( Northumberland where its nearly always cold !) she could not understand how I was so hot all the time and sweating gallons from the humidity. She loved it !!!

    • Deirdre The older body does not adapt or give the warning signals as well as younger people .The Victorian Health Department actually does agree the elderly do suffer heat exhaustion & even die from this every summer.They actually give out warnings to elderly per telephone & community workers re the methods to avoid the heat. Emergency Departments & hospital admissions increase due to heat exhaustion symptoms.These are proved facts in Victoria.

    • I cannot cope at all with the heat any more. (I’m 70) I perspire so much I have to carry a towel everywhere I go. It not just uncomfortable it’s embarrassing

    • just quoting the research -claimed that cold was much more of a problem.. and it was a Qld study, so wasn’t talking about serious cold. Of course individuals are different. My mum hated the heat – but all her life, not just as she aged. My father in law, by contrast, absolutely revelled in it and was out and about in weather I couldn’t stand, even in his 70s. But he felt the cold terribly and would rug up when i was still in shorts. We are all different, and have to take care of ourselves according to our needs. OH and for the record, both the abovementioned had lives severely shortened by infections they caught during cold weather .. although antibiotics fixed the infections, they were never quite well again aftewards …. nothing to do with the weather.

  4. I would like to add a few ideas we used as community nurses1)dress in loose thin garments( leave tight under garments off eg corsets etc.). 2)Stay in doors & remain inactive( no hot stove cooking). 3)Reduce alcohol drinks these do not hydrate. 4) Place ice in a bowl in front of fans, it cools the air flow. 5) Shut all blinds,curtains,windows before sun up & open all after dun down. 6) Go to an air conditioned building if able to sit there eg.shopping centre, picture theatre or friends place. 5) Eat light cold food eg . Salads,icy poles etc.

  5. Felt totally drained in temp of 36degrees. I bought electrolytes that can be added to a glass of water. It made me feel rejuvenated

  6. Humidity is the killer, drains your energy and because of the excessive perspiration, our electrolytes can become out of balance. I usually drink water with electrolytes added. Especially if I play tennis on one of these days.

  7. Not only are the high temps going for longer periods, we are getting lots of horrible humid days that I just can’t move around outdoors in. Have to get up early to do my jobs now before Perth turns into Singapore once more. The new mist fans are good for cooling down.

  8. Don’t fair well in higher 30ies let alone 40ies. I’ve got the air conditioning and fans going I feel so sick it’s like you can’t breathe probably.

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