The holiday fuss is long gone and we finally have to look reality in the eyes – we are facing a record-breaking heat here in Australia and this causes problems in a few southern states. Fire-fighters are trying to put the bushfires under control for more than 24 hours now. The purpose of this post is to raise awareness about heat stress and how people should watch over their health and manage the heat. My heart goes out to the victims of the fires and to the people who lost their homes.
According to Tracey Oakman, director of Public Health for the Murrimbidgee NSW Health, every year more and more Australians are heading to the emergency room with symptoms of heat stress. We often think that just because we are Aussies, we are tough and resistant to heat. Well, guess what? There is just a certain degree of heat that any human body can handle. Unfortunately, in our beloved country the temperature is slowly and steadily increasing. For this reason I have collected a few tips for you to keep yourself cool. Keep in mind that pregnant and breast-feeding women, as well as babies and infants are more at risk to suffer heat stress. Avoid taking your baby for a walk and try to keep the temperature at home as moderate as possible – no extremes i.e. too hot & too cold.
1. Try to stay indoors and near the air conditioner between 11 am and 5 pm. No work is more important than your health. if the heat is unbearable and you don’t have an air conditioner, go to the nearest shopping centre or library and stay there during the hottest part of the day.
2. Drink a lot of water. I know you have probably heard that before, but I cannot emphasize it enough! Keeping yourself hydrated is important, because when your body sweats it is cooling itself naturally.
Useful Tip: Don’t drink cold water from the fridge. This will have an extremely negative effect on your body.
3. During a heat wave wear natural breathable fabrics like cotton. These will allow your skin to breathe and you will feel better in them.
4. Do some washing up. It may sound strange, but certain domestic chores will help you keep cool. You might feel better if you wash the car, wash the bathroom, or wash the carpets with a hose. It will be refreshing for both your body and mind, and also a fun thing to do during the long hot days. Keep in mind, while it is hot outside everything you wash will dry pretty quickly, so it is a win-win situation!
5. Avoid cooking heavy meals and keep your lunch and dinner light. This will make you feel better overall.
6. If you have to go out, use sunscreen!
How to take care of pets during a heat wave:
1. Avoid walking your dog on paved surfaces, sand, rocks, etc. These heat very quickly and can burn the paws of your beloved pet. You are wearing shoes and may not feel this, but your dog’s paws are unprotected.
3. Make sure you have left enough water for your dog to drink. Similarly to people, they need a lot of fluids during a heat wave.
4. Make sure you keep them in a cool area. If you have an air conditioner, stay near it together with your pet. You may take your clothes off, but your dog cannot take its fur down. For this reason make sure you cool it down. If you have to, give your dog a cool shower.
5. Look for signs and strange behaviour. Your dog might be suffering from heat stress, if it doesn’t engage with you, doesn’t want to play or seem disoriented.
Let’s hope the temperatures will go back to normal soon and the fires will be over.