Expert tips to navigate the ‘hidden dangers’ of scorching summer conditions

Jan 22, 2024
Experts stress the significance of maintaining coolness and proper hydration during the summer months. Source: Getty Images.

As southeast Queensland battles a relentless heatwave, older Australians are being urged to take extra precautions to protect themselves from the scorching temperatures.

With Australians over the age of 65 at an increased risk of heat-related illnesses, experts emphasise the importance of staying cool and hydrated during these challenging conditions.

The sweltering heat that has gripped southeast Queensland is not an isolated phenomenon. The rest of the country is also feeling the impact of summer conditions, with rising temperatures posing health risks nationwide.

This pressing issue highlights the need for older Australians, in particular, to be vigilant and take proactive measures to beat the heat.

According to Jinny Chin, Clinical Manager at TriCare Upper Mt Gravatt, keeping cool and adequately hydrated isn’t just about comfort, it’s also about staying alive and remaining healthy.

“Hot weather can be extra risky for seniors because their bodies struggle to stay at the right temperature, and chronic health conditions or medications can affect heat tolerance,” Chin explains.

“For seniors, summer isn’t just sunshine – it can also harbor hidden dangers. With rising temperatures, they face increased health risks like dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even life- threatening heatstroke.”

While this time of year is traditionally a time of leisure, extreme weather conditions can have serious repercussions.

“Heatstroke is a serious health risk that can result from heat exposure,” Chin states.

“It can lead to symptoms such as loss of consciousness, confusion, dizziness, and a rapid heartbeat. Other conditions that can be caused by heat are dehydration and heat exhaustion.”


1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can lead to dehydration.
2. Wear appropriate clothing: Opt for lightweight, light-coloured, and loose-fitting clothing. Dark colours absorb heat, and tight clothes can restrict circulation.
3. Use fans and air conditioning: Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you don’t have air conditioning, spend time in public facilities like shopping malls or libraries that do.
4. Avoid strenuous activities: Limit outdoor activities, especially midday when the sun is hottest. Plan any necessary outdoor activities for early morning or late evening.
5. Take cool showers or baths: Taking a cool shower or bath can be an effective way to cool down quickly.
6. Use sun protection: When outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat and use sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn.
7. Move outdoor furniture to fully shaded areas: Or arrange for shade to be fitted to areas frequently used during summer, and wear footwear when outside.

Chin emphasises the need to follow these tips to prevent heat-related illnesses and ensure safety and comfort during the often harsh summer conditions.

“Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the sunshine and make lasting memories with our loved ones. But the heat can also bring some serious health risks,” Chin says.

“To prevent heat-related illnesses and keep our seniors safe and comfortable, we should follow some simple tips to stay cool and hydrated.”


IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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