The new year will have hotter than average days and warmer nights - we’re also in for a wet summer
Try to form a three key person support network you can rely on during the summer season
Your house can be the best defence against heat, any modifications you implement, such as new blinds or awnings. can be really helpful on hot days
The elderly are more at risk during heatwaves, so preparing for hot weather, which is always likely in Australia, can be a crucial step to keeping yourself safe during the summer holidays.
There are a number of ways you can prepare your home and yourself for hot weather this year.
Climate outlook for 2021
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) provided their climate outlook for the new year, which estimates that Australia's minimum temperatures will be above average across the country. This means even the cooler days will be slightly hotter overall compared to previous years.
Maximum temperatures in coastal areas are likely to be above average, and inland Australia is likely to have warmer than average days.
Additionally, Australians will be experiencing warmer nights than usual, which can make it difficult to sleep for people that don't have adequate cooling systems in place.
The BOM also estimates that it will be quite a wet start to 2021; mixed with warmer than average days and hotter weather in coastal areas, this could mean more thunderstorms through the summer season.
Preparing your home and yourself for hot weather
Once hot weather has hit, it’s harder and more uncomfortable to plan and implement ways to cool down at home. For example, you might be waiting for days to get a new air conditioner, which, in hot weather, can feel like a lifetime. If you get your plan in place beforehand, you are well-set to manage the increase in hot weather straight away.
The Australian Red Cross suggests:
Forming a strong support network means you have someone to call if you start feeling unwell or if you need help. Make sure your key support people know how they can help you. This could include someone for practical help around the home or having a person provide emotional support. Your support network could include family members, friends or neighbours.
If your home doesn't have home cooling modifications, it might be worth installing some. This could be awnings, shade cloths or blinds to reduce heat getting inside. Even large potted plants in front of windows can prevent heat from getting into the home.
Invest in lighter and breathable fabric for bed sheets and quilts, blankets, and clothing. Commonly used fabric during summer include cotton, linen and bamboo. These fabrics on your bed will make it easier to sleep at night, and wearing clothes in this fabric will make it easier for your body to deal with warmer weather.
Check and maintain your cooling devices, such as fans and air conditioners. Cleaning these cooling devices makes your home safer, as these devices can become fire risks in hot temperatures. Additionally, maintaining cooling devices also means they will run more efficiently.
Have an emergency kit and plan prepared for potential electricity outages. It can be common for heatwaves or hot weather to cause a power outage, which can be dangerous for older Australians. You need to be prepared to either visit a family member or friend’s place until the power comes back on, or have the right tools to handle the outage for a couple of hours or days.
Identify places you can visit if you need a reprieve from the heat. This could be libraries, community centres, shopping centres, or council heat-safe zones (check your local council website for information). *Due to COVID-19, you may be required to wear masks in public areas. Be aware of your State or Territory coronavirus restrictions.
Organise all future outings and appointments for early in the day, as the day's heat is most intense in the afternoon.
Make sure you have all the food, water and medicine you require. Putting water bottles in the fridge can help keep you cool, as well as having ice blocks and packs in the freezer. You need to store your medicine appropriately, which can be difficult during hot weather. Put your medicine in a dark and cool place, not in direct sunlight or in a place where moisture can affect it. Do not put any medicine into the fridge unless the label says so.
These above tips can make all the difference if you implement them before the sweltering summer heat hits.
Remember, if you are feeling unwell because of hot weather, contact triple zero (000) for emergency assistance.
How do you prepare for hot weather? Tell us in the comments below.