Heatwave prompts warning to look out for older South Australians

Media Release 18th January 2018

With the mercury set to hit 41 degrees over the next two days, COTA SA is urging all South Australians to look out for those older people whose health may be at risk.

COTA SA Chief Executive Jane Mussared says the first heatwave of the summer is a timely reminder to check on family, friends and neighbours to ensure they are staying cool.

"Heat related illnesses among those most vulnerable in the community are very common, and if heat stress is not recognised and acted on quickly, it can be fatal," Ms Mussared said.

"Unfortunately with the rising electricity prices, some older people on low fixed incomes choose to go without air conditioning, putting their health at risk.

"By far the issue causing the most stress and anxiety is the household electricity costs. It means they are having to balance the health advice to stay cool within their household budgets - and it's their health that often loses out as they simply can't afford to run the air conditioner."

Ms Mussared says while it's important individuals take responsibility for their own wellbeing during a heatwave and take heed to how they can remain safe, many older people in our community, particularly those who live alone, would value a helping hand.

COTA SA suggests the following tips for older people during a heat wave:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Stay indoors and avoid strenuous activities
  • Keep the house closed up and blinds/curtains closed
  • Spend the day at a friend or family member's home who have air conditioning
  • Visit public facilities with air conditioning such as the community library or under cover shopping centre
  • At the very least, consider using a fan, wet flannel or towels and spray bottles in place of air conditioning

COTA SA is advocating for a number of initiatives to ease the financial burden - and health risks - for older South Australians in its 2018 State Election Platform, due to be released next month. This includes:

  • the SA Government adopting a percentage concession approach and strongly recommends the 17.5% concession currently available in Victoria be adopted in SA;
  • the acceleration of the program of installing solar panels in public housing in SA and for new incentives to be available for older people on low incomes to fit solar panels and batteries.

COTA SA is an older people's movement run by, for and with older people. COTA SA represents the aspirations, interests and rights of 633,000 older South Australians. Further information about COTA SA can be found at www.cotasa.org.au.

For all interview requests please contact:

Henry Rasheed | henry@communikate.net.au | 0423 143 695

Download a copy of the media release