Tuesday, 14 January 2014

9 ways to beat the heat - Australian heatwave January 2014

With a heatwave descending upon most of the south of Australia this week, I thought it timely to brainstorm some ways to beat the heat. Ok, I read point 1 off Lifehacker some time back, and perhaps everything here is commonsense in one way or another. But those of us who have exercised in hot weather may have discovered, heat and fatigue can impair one's thinking. So here goes:

1. Open all your windows at night when it is cool. Close the windows at dawn - or the first thing in the morning. This will ensure a "reserve" of cool air is trapped in your house. Obviously on Thursday, January 16 2014, this method will provide the least effect during this particular hot spell.

Latest update from Accuweather

Yesterday, this ensured reasonable comfort in up to 35°C for most of the day. Around 4pm, we switched on the fan and that kept us cool enough.

2. Head to the beach or swimming pool. Fancy a free trial for Carlton Baths?

Just remember your sunblock. I remember sunblock was much cheaper in Tasmania and Perth just a few years ago. Either it's more expensive in Melbourne, or it's simply more expensive now. But at about $20 per litre for SPF 30, there's no excuse to go unprotected.

Brighton Beach. Photo taken on a much balmier day.

For those a little more sensitive to sun, rash guards or rash tops provide even more protection. Of course, remember to get a broad-brimmed hat and pants as well, to give you total protection.

3. It's time to go shopping. I've made a list, and intend to go shopping for auto parts, outdoor gear, among other things. We'll take our time, and enjoy the air-conditioning.

4. If you are on a budget or simply don't wish to keep walking around, try an indoor cafe or library.

Victoria State Library

5. Air-conditioning pooling.

Time to catch up with friends. Most of us have air-conditioning, but we might as well share our homes, and save money as well.

6. Flexi-hours, if your employer allows. Go to work later. The aim is to leave the office at about six pm or so, after the worst of the afternoon heat. Of course, this only works if your office is air-conditioned.

7. Ok this is a reader contribution - cover the windows which would receive the most intense sunlight with emergency blankets (those aluminised lightweight sheets). Reflective car sun-shades and plain ol' aluminium foil would work as well.

8. "Boundary cooling". Spray your roof or whichever wall faces the sun with water. This is a technique used on board ships to remove heat from a compartment which is on fire, without actually entering the compartment. It may or may not be super effective, but I suppose that unless there are water restrictions (at last check in December, Victoria's water levels were healthy), it might be worth a try.

It was a technique which I have occasionally attempted in Singapore on the inside (obviously...) walls of our flat's toilet.

9. If all else fails, have a cool shower!

Now, do share your ways to beat the heat!

- S

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