KEEPING cool during a heatwave is not just inconvenient, for many Australians, it can be a matter of Life and Death.

Yet advice from public health agencies is severely lacking and fails to protect those most vulnerable, according to researchers who have launched a study into sustainable cooling techniques during heatwaves.

As Australia sweltered through the hottest month on record in January, scientists at the University of Sydney  had just begun a recruitment drive for research on how older Australians can stay safe when the mercury rises.

The study, funded by the National Health and Medical research Council, began testing on its first two participants last week, with researchers hoping to sign up about 100 Australians aged 60 or above the end of 2018.

Lead researcher  Associate Professor Ollie Jay says the increasing threat of  heatwaves, which are    Australia's deadliest natural disaster, particularly affects  older people and those with cardiovascular  disease due to their reduced ability to sweat.

Staying cool may seem simple, but one quarter of Australians do not have air-conditioners and  many more struggle to switch them on due to the cost of energy bills, he said.

Meanwhile, an electric fan uses around 50 times less electricity than an air conditioner, while peaks in  air-conditioning use risks overloading electricity grids and causing blackouts which leave even more people at risk.

Under careful medical supervision, study participants will be exposed to various heatwave conditions and cooling strategies with scientists measure core temperature, monitor the heart and measure dehydration.

Conditions will me modelled on events such as the dry Adelaide heatwave in 2009 and the humid heatwave of Europe in 2003, which led to tens of thousands of deaths.

Testing will take place at The University of Sydney's Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory in Lidcombe, in Sydney's west, and participants will each undergo four simulations that last three hours.

The honor and serving of the latest  Global Operational research on
Heatwaves and Sufferings and Deaths, continues to Part 2.


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