- Slip, Slop, Slap. We learned very early on that the sun is a bitch and hates us humans and so as children we listened to the advice of a melting snowman (don’t you dare judge us, our childhoods were awesome). Slip on a shirt, fabric is a good barrier to stop the UV rays of the sun. Slop on sunscreen, Cancer Council approved bottles are best and try to find 30⁺ or higher with a water resistance. Re-apply every two hours minimum! Slap on a hat, broad brim to cover your ears and nose. Slide on some sunnies. Seek shade.
- Be water safe. This proves our childhoods were great if you can ask any local to sing the water safe song and they start belting it out. “Fence the pool, shut the gate, teach your kids to swim it’s great, supervise, watch your mate, and learn how to resuscitate”. Essentially, keep kids away from water unless they are being supervised by adults and learn basic first aid. In Australia, we have the highest rates of those with first aid training in the world but don’t depend on others. Before coming out get that training, or while out here get that training at a one day course. It could save someone’s life.
- Be water safe. I’m not repeating myself here, we just have to go over the safety around a beach. Sun, surf, golden sand, it’s the reason most people come to Australia. Most (not all, the smaller beaches you have to look out for each other) popular beaches are monitored by volunteer Surf Lifesavers, the men and women in yellow and red shirts who dive out into the ocean to rescue. They are there for your safety. They will assess the swell and determine where it is safe to swim and surf putting flags up on shore.
- Swim between these flags. If you get into trouble, try to remain calm and raise one arm into the air this will catch the attention of a watching lifesaver.
- Don’t go out if you have been drinking alcohol, you’re placing yourself at risk and those who will have to rescue you in danger.
- Remember to Slip, Slop, Slap.
- Don’t take valuables, things get damaged with the sand and water or they could go walk-abouts with a thief.
- If a Surf Lifesaver asks you to get out of the water then do as they say. Our oceans are filled with dangers and if a shark is spotted you don’t want to be in the water any longer.
- Emergency services. There are two numbers you must memorise triple zero (000) and 112 (to be used on any mobile in any country). Use these numbers during only an emergency. An operator will send out the help that is needed be it ambulance, police, or fire.
- Prevent hyperthermia. The core temperature of the human body sits roughly at 37⁰C, if it goes above this your body goes into hyperthermia or heat stress. Sweating profusely, very thirsty, light headed, lethargic, red in the face, shallow breaths almost like panting, and a rapid heartbeat are some of the signs of heat stress. Children and the elderly are very likely to be affected, and those out in the sun doing physical activity. People from cooler climates need to be extra careful.
- Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day, from about 12 to 2pm take a siesta.
- Drink plenty of water, if your pee is yellow you need more water. Pubs have to provide water for free, so if you’re stuck duck in and ask for glass.
- Sit in shade.
- Loosen clothing or take off anything unnecessary.
- Apply ice to pressure points (around the neck, underarms, and groin, this is where the blood flows closest to the skin and can be cooled).
- Ask for help. If things do not get better by doing all of this your body could go into heat stroke and medical attention will be needed.
- Don’t be a dick. It seems every time a person goes missing in the Blue Mountains, it’s a bloody foreigner. They thought they could go for a hike without telling anyone where they were going, not taking a human guide, or not taking a backpack with food, water, and other supplies. Some people who have gone missing have never returned, and the emergency services that have to go out to do a land search and, for the lucky, a rescue, they are placed in dangerous situations. Go prepared, download the free app EMERGENCY+ it gives the exact longitude and latitude of your location so if you are able to call for help they can send a helicopter to grab you right away, and try not to get lost.
- Driving across country may be on the bucket list. In the middle of Australia, it is a desert. Vast, empty, and hot. If you do decide that you want to drive straight through the centre, then plan ahead. Very few services are out there so if something breaks on your vehicle you are screwed if you can’t fix it yourself. Fuel stations are spread out by days. Work out how much fuel it will take, if the vehicle needs anything, supplies that will get you through the trip, and buy a satellite phone (phone service sucks once you leave the cities). And don’t get lost.
- Wear bug repellent. Mosquitoes looking for blood and flies trying to go up your nose, they’re not fun. Wear a repellent spray and your hand will hopefully not have to flap across your face every five seconds.
- Watch out for the wildlife. If you are driving country roads there is a chance that you will come across a kangaroo, if you see one gradually slow down and don’t swerve; if you slam on the brakes and jerk the steering wheel to avoid a collision there is a higher possibility you could flip the car, go into oncoming traffic or collide with a tree. If you see a snake while walking there are two options; freeze and wait for it to move on, or walk away in the opposite direction. If you are bitten call for help immediately and remain calm, this is where first aid training comes in handy in applying a pressure immobilisation bandage to stop the venom from spreading. Spiders, bees and wasps, lizards, there are a lot of creatures out there that you have to keep an eye out for.
- Appropriate clothing. Cotton, light, and can absorb sweat. Anything tight and synthetic and you will feel like you’re being squeezed to death. Wearing very little and exposing skin is alright (within decency, if we can see genitalia then you need to wear pants!) as long as you remember to put sunscreen onto those areas on show and stick mostly to the shade. Oh, and bring a big broad brim hat. Cannot stress that enough.
- Fire. Summer is a total fire ban time in Australia, which means you cannot start a bon fire or camp fire. If you do start a fire and you are caught (trust me, when everyone can smell smoke they will call the rural fire brigade and they will find you) then there are hefty fines. Everything is all good if the fire remains contained, but due to the lack of rain, embers can easily ignite the dry grass and then it can run, resulting in lost habitat for animals, destroyed property, and in severe cases, death. If there is a bush fire, then follow the directions of the emergency services. They will evacuate you out of the area to a safe place with other residents.
- Sweat. Sweating is natural for the human body during hot days and physical activity. There are two downsides to this normal occurrence; discomfort as the sweat pours out and makes your clothes stick to your skin, and the odour. Deodorant shouldn’t be used as a shower in a can! That stuff may over power the smell from your underarms but it can be overbearing for those around and could cause asthma attacks. If possible, take regular showers and change clothes. If not possible, put up with the stink. Oh, and continue to hydrate with lots and lots of water.
- What to do while out here? Music festivals are high on the list. For more cultural events check out the Tropfest short film contest and Chinese Lunar New Year. Sports (sigh), if you’re into tennis make sure to visit Melbourne, cricket will dominate the television set so you can’t miss that. If you’re out in the country, see if you can get your hands on tickets for a B&S ball (bachelor and spinster) and make sure you wear your best cowboy boots to it. Of course, you can’t miss the New Year’s Eve celebrations, find the best spot to watch the fireworks and make sure you’re beside someone special (or special for the night).
Australia. A multi-cultural haven, with spectacular scenery, and an easy going attitude. Sunshine most days, warm golden sands, and great surf during summer. And there are so many things to do other than lounging around a beach all day every day; music festivals, Australia day celebrations, sports (if you’re into that sort of thing), lots of adventures just waiting to be stumbled across. If you’re planning a trip out during summer (December to the end of February) then you should probably prepare like a local. The temperature can reach 35⁰C and above every single day with little relief. The locals have come up with ways to survive and here are just some tips.