How to Survive Australia’s Summer Heat
While almost everyone is preparing for winter, Australians are bearing the heat of the hot summer sun. Australian summers are unlike anywhere in the world, and like everything in the country, it can get dangerous. As Bear Grylls and the Marines say: improvise, adapt, and overcome.
Drinking enough water is one of the best ways to regulate your temperature and avoid heat strokes. Stage 2 restrictions are in effect, and water prices are shooting up. If you haven’t done so, invest in a water tank, preferably one connected to a rainwater gathering system. Hook it up to a small Onga pressure pump, and you’ll have usable water throughout (or at least for most of) the summer. Restrictions only apply to municipal water, so you can use your tank water to wash your cars and clean your windows.
Shelter from the Sun
The heat of the sun can turn your house into an oven. Keep sunlight outside by using blinds, thick dark curtains, shutters, or glazed windows. Warm air outside can also enter your home. So keep your doors and shutters closed. Insulation on your ceiling can make your home 35 percent cooler, and it will relieve some of the burdens on your air conditioning units.
Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to the harsh Australian heatwaves. Crank up the air conditioning and keep your house cool. Fans don’t cool down room temperatures, and evaporative coolers will only make your home more humid. Higher electricity bills are preferable to hospital bills, and temperatures over 40°C can send people to the ER. Switch to a newer model that uses inverter technology if you want to keep your bills down, but don’t skimp on the AC.
Whether it’s in your car or your house, heat accumulation can turn your day from bad to worse. Integrate eaves and vents into the design of your roofs and ceilings. Turbine vents or whirlybirds might look ridiculous, but these devices vent out heat more effectively than the usual vents. If you’re driving, open your windows for a few minutes and run your fan. Vent the heat out and then crank up the air conditioning.
Heat isn’t the only thing to be worried about during Australia’s summers. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can reach incredibly high levels with clear skies and the country’s proximity to the equator. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and UV rays are the reason. Use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, or carry an umbrella. Schedule your activities after the sun peaks and always carry sunscreen whenever you go out for extended periods. Sunscreen only lasts for a couple of hours (even less when you’re sweating), so make sure to reapply before it loses efficacy.