In Australia, winter takes place in the months of June, July, and August. Though snow only falls in certain areas located in the south, much of the country experiences cold wind, rain, and darkness. In a city like Canberra, the temperature may drop to below 0 °C/32 °F by nightfall.
Winter may be a reprieve from Australia’s infamous heat, but the array of health hazards that one can encounter during this season is surprisingly diverse. Doctors, nurses, and students of first aid and CPR courses in Australia know that winter is a key time for medical intervention, be it for treating household burns or managing severe asthma triggered by the conditions outdoors.
As the popular epic TV series Game of Thrones puts it: “winter is coming.” What are the specific health hazards that Australians should prepare for? Here’s a quick but comprehensive list.
- Common colds, influenza, and other infections. The damp and erratic weather may instigate nasty colds, full-blown cases of the flu, or other related infections. If these complicate further and lead to a more serious condition like pneumonia, the situation could be deadly for someone who is in delicate health. As such, take care to insulate yourself and your loved ones by following your immunisation schedules; washing your hands regularly and keeping up on other hygienic practices; and wearing protective clothing, such as face masks.
- Dehydration. It may be easier to tell when we’re losing water during Australia’s hotter months, as that’s when we are thirsty or sweating a large amount. Keeping hydrated when it’s colder out is a tricky matter, but no less important to our bodies. Prevent weakness, fatigue, and vulnerability to illness by drinking enough water during the winter months. Bring a bottle of clean water around with you everywhere, or drink regularly from the water container in your home or office to keep up your hydration routine.
- Dampness and mould. In indoor areas, on the other hand, the winter season can bring about persistent dampness. Certain corners of your house may be a bother to keep clean and dry, but unless you do this, you may be susceptible to an outbreak of mould. Mould, as well as bacteria festering in the damp spots, will lower the quality of indoor air and possibly aggravate allergies and asthma. Be aware and be conscientious in your cleaning routine; if you need additional help, you can call for professional mould remediation services.
- Objects conveying heat or electricity. Simple objects that you keep around the house during winter, such as hot water bottles and electric blankets, must be treated with extra care. If left alone or used improperly, they can inflict burns or scalds on the user. Make sure that everyone who uses a heated or charged implement in your household follows proper instructions, keeps it out of the reach of very young children, and puts it away at a safe and cool temperature.
- Kitchen hazards. According to the numbers of HealthDirect Australia, more than 40% of all deadly kitchen fires occur during the winter season. Though heat from outside may be scarce, it is no excuse to slack off on the safe management of one’s kitchen. Be extra judicious in maintaining your gas stoves and electrical appliances; switch anything off if you are not using it. Enjoin everyone not to leave candles or any other open flame alone at any time. Lastly, check on the smoke alarms in your kitchen (as well as in other parts of your house) to see if they are working and if they’re running on adequately charged batteries.
- Fireplace safety. Some families have the luxury of fireplaces installed in their homes, and these may see active use during the winter months. But proper maintenance of the fireplace is crucial if one wants to avoid igniting a fire or suffocating from trapped smoke. Before you start using your fireplace, ensure that the chimney is clean and free of soot and debris; if you have trouble doing this on your own, you can enlist the services of a chimney sweep.
Australia may experience winter at the same time that other countries sweat through their summer. That makes the season all the more unique; and it is the perfect time to enjoy winter sports and festivities, to travel, or to spend time with loved ones at home. If you check off on dealing with these health hazards, then you’ll have yourself quite the winter to remember!