Promoting Simple Ways to Stay Cool


Practical suggestions from the community about keeping cool on hot days have been outlined in a free pamphlet.

By drawing on community knowledge, researchers at Western Sydney University have produced an informative and accessible pamphlet that outlines simple ways to deal with rising temperatures in the home. With summers predicted to become hotter due to global warming, the pamphlet will prove a valuable resource.

“The pamphlet emerged from a project that we’d done with households in Western Sydney looking at how they respond to the heat and what strategies they employ,” says Louise Crabtree-Hayes, a professor at Western’s Institute for Culture and Society. “It was really interesting as there was this phenomenal pot of knowledge about dealing with the heat in the community and we wanted to make it more accessible to people.”

The practical strategies given in the free pamphlet, which is called Preparing for the Heat, are deliberately low-tech and easy to implement. Typical examples include placing potted plants outside windows, having face towels that can be soaked in water, and identifying cooling refuges within five minutes from home. Air conditioning is only mentioned once. “Not everyone has air conditioning or is able to afford to run it if they do,” says Crabtree-Hayes. “The suggestions were selected to cause people to think ‘These are things around the home I could do to make it a bit cooler on a hot day’.”

Being cooler is not just a matter of comfort; being too hot can induce heat stroke or cause health complications, especially in the more vulnerable such as the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

To enhance its accessibility, the pamphlet is light on words and attractively illustrated. It is being distributed both physically and on a range of websites.

The team is now working with community housing providers across western Sydney on how social housing residents can be heat-ready. That work is being led by Associate Professor Stephen Healy and has been funded by the Australian Research Council and community housing providers and social housing advocacy organisations.

Need to know

  • Heatwaves pose a considerable health risk to the most vulnerable in the community.
  • Western researchers produced a pamphlet describing easy, low-tech ways to stay cool.

This case study is republished from Future-Makers. Read the original article (opens in a new window).

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