The good thing about our mob is the closeness of family and community and get-togethers. Just like everyone else our mob can suffer from the heat which causes our body to lose water and we can become sick from heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. We need to look after those in our families and community who are more at risk like small children and older people especially if they have heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and if they take certain medications.
It is therefore a good idea to prepare for the hot weather before it arrives.
So what can we do to keep cool during long periods of hot weather?
What do I need to do for myself?
- If you are taking medication, or have a long term sickness, see your regular doctor or visit your nearest Aboriginal Medical Service to talk about what is best for you when the weather gets hot.
- This is especially important if your doctor normally limits your fluids.
- Try to keep your medicines in a cool (and dark) place, out of reach from children. If your medicine becomes hot then it may not work properly or do you more harm. Ask your Aboriginal Medical Service for advice if needed.
- Have important phone numbers handy in case you need help. It is a good idea to put them next to the house phone, and make sure everyone can read them and knows they are there that may have to help you or your family get sick.
- Make sure you and your family drink enough water, especially during hot days if you get the OK from your doctor.
- Check the weather forecast every day so you know when the weather gets hot.
- Make sure you plan your activities for when it is less hot in the day (early morning)
- Understand the symptoms of heat stroke.
- Wear hats, cool clothing and sunscreen.
- Remember when you are thirsty water is the best choice, and avoid tea, coffee and fizzy drinks.
What do I need to think about to keep my house cool?
Get your family or neighbour to help you prepare your house or apartment:
- Check that your fridge, freezer, fan and air-conditioning works properly.
- Stock up on fresh food, water and medicines to last up to a week so you don’t have to go out in very hot weather.
- Consider buying cool packs to have in the fridge or freezer to help you cool down if needed.
- Put together a small emergency kit to plan for a possible power failure – this may include a torch, batteries, candles, water, canned food, matches, a battery operated radio and a first aid kit.
- Check that your home can be properly aired whilst keeping your home safe and secure.
- Create a cool room or cool area to go to during extreme heat. If you can, use indoor and outdoor shading and turn on the fan or air-conditioning.
- If possible, have curtains with pale linings instead of dark linings or metal venetian blinds as they both absorb heat and may make rooms hotter.
- If you can add external blinds, shutters or some other shading on windows in rooms that get a lot of sun.
- If possible insulate your house – this keeps it cool in summer and warm in winter and can reduce electricity costs by reducing the need to run air conditioners.
- Keep an ear out for bushfire reports as they often occur on really hot days. Information on bushfire preparedness is available from the NSW Rural Fire Service (http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au).
How to stay healthy in hot weather
It is important to know how to stay healthy in the heat. Try to follow these four key messages: