By Lauren Cooney. Edited for online by Bernard Thompson.
A Queensland University of Technology and Arizona State University joint study on environmental factors reveals summer temperature hikes are more likely to cause heat-related admissions to hospital.
The study shows emergency hospital admissions increased by 7 per cent when Brisbane gets 10 degrees Celsius warmer.
Researchers say this knowledge will help prevent future heat-induced fatalities and illnesses.
QUT Associate Professor Adrian Barnett says some Brisbane suburbs are more dangerous to be in on hot days.
He says the most heat-affected area in Brisbane was Archerfield in the city’s south-west.
Assoc Prof Barnett also says the most affected are the elderly who are more likely to suffer effects compared to other age groups.
He says socio-economic backgrounds also play a key role.
Assoc Prof Barnett says low income families are normally financially unable to support having air-conditioners.
“The other suburb characteristic that we found that is important is the absence of high incomes,” he said.
“The probable reasons behind that are people on high incomes are much more likely to afford air-conditioning.
“Air-conditioning is the number one thing to reducing a heat-wave illness.”
High population density
He says residents’ homes are potentially making people sick.
“Those tend to be suburbs where we have a high population density,” he said.
“The reason for that is those suburbs are warmer because of all the buildings trapping the heat.”
Assoc Prof Barnett says people should insulate their homes to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses.
“I think it is good because it is relatively cheap, it is long term, it can last for 15 years,” he said.
“It is one of the only things that we have that we have strong evidence that it works.”
He says the best way to tackle the summer heat is with air-conditioning, but there are also other ways.
“Avoid alcohol, keep yourself hydrated, avoid activity during the hottest part of the day, have a cold shower, wear loose fitting clothing, or you can go somewhere,” he said.
The results were published in the Environmental Health Perspective.