When the mercury soars, here’s some tips on keeping yourself and the kids cool.
Check out your local pool when the mercury starts to soar. Plan your day around the heat though– avoid being outdoors between 11am and 5pm. Stockton, Mayfield, Wallsend, Beresfield and Lambton pools are available in the Newcastle area. You can’t beat Lambton Pool though with its aquatic playground. I love that giant bucket and the squeals from the kids when it overturns. Don’t forget about the shaded toddler pool and the learner pool and of course the giant waterslide. The hardest thing about this pool is getting your child to leave voluntarily. Try bribing them with ice blocks from the café!
There’s also a giant bucket at Maitland Pool‘s aquatic playground. In addition to the playground, they feature the usual pool amenities such as shaded baby pool, café and picnic areas. Also nearby is the East Maitland pool. In Lake Macquarie, there are six pools in which to cool off – Charlestown, Morisset, Speers Point, Swansea, Toronto and West Wallsend.
For beach fun with little ones, I love the Canoe Pool at Newcastle Beach. The water isn’t too deep and the sand is perfect for erecting sandcastles. Just don’t forget a sun shelter to get some shade and make sure that the sand isn’t too hot.
Bigger kids can splash around in the Newcastle Ocean Baths. Merewether Baths are also a great choice in the summer months. It also has a shallower sandy area protected by rocks from the ocean on the side of the baths, which is suitable for younger kids.
If you can’t be bothered to drag the kids and all the required paraphernalia to a pool, make your own aquatic fun at home. Set up the water sprinkler system on the lawn and let the kids go wild. Throw down a plastic tarp and they can slide along. This works especially well if you have a sloped back yard. If all else fails, give them a few buckets of water and they’ll amuse themselves.
Just don’t forget the usual sun smart rules of Slip, Slop and Slap and avoid being outdoors between 11am and 5pm or during periods of extreme heat.
On days when it’s really hot, keep your house cool by keeping curtains or blinds closed to keep out heat. Ideally, you will have one or two rooms that are cooler or in which you can run a fan (cheaper for electricity bill) or air conditioning. Keep kids occupied with indoor activities such as DVDs, drawing, dress ups, boardgames, craft, etc.
When you need a break from the heat, go enjoy someone else’s air conditioning. Libraries are great places for some free cold air. Each Newcastle City Council (NCC) library is a designated “community cool spot”, which residents can visit for free to cool down. You and the kids can cool down plus get some books, magazines, CDs or DVDs. Lake Mac Libraries are also cool spots so visit them if there’s a branch close to you. In the Hunter Valley area, visit one of the Maitland City Council library branches such as Maitland Library, East Maitland Library, Rutherford Library or Thornton Library. Cessnock & Kurri Kurri libraries are also designated community cool spots so visit them to escape the heat.
Also, check out museums and galleries such as the Newcastle Museum, Newcastle Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery and Maitland Regional Art Gallery. The kids will enjoy themselves and they might even learn something. If you don’t mind paying, indoor play centres can be a godsend in the heat.
Don’t forget about a chilled movie theatre. For those with babies, enjoy a session of Bring Your Baby at Event Cinemas at Glendale and Kotara or Spit the Dummy at Hoyts Charlestown. For older kids, there should be kids movies screening at the cinemas. When all else fails, just grab your kids and go to Charlestown Square or Westfield Kotara and escape the heat like all the other families in the airconditioned surrounds.
Beat the heat with some cool food. I’ve been keeping containers of washed fruit and veggies in the fridge such as strawberries, blueberries, grapes, watermelon, cucumbers and baby carrots. If you chill them in the freezer for 30 minutes before eating, that’s sure to cool kids down.
Keep the cool theme going for lunch and dinner. Cucumber sandwiches are always refreshing especially with a cold pasta or garden salad. Finish with some yoghurt or a smoothie for dessert.
For treats, have homemade ice blocks ready in the freezer. Décor makes Lickety-Sips which is a great ice block mould that kids can eat lick or sip using a built-in straw. You can use a variety of liquids such as fruit juice, cordial, milk or yoghurt to create delicious and fun treats.
Stay hydrated – make sure your family drinks lots of water to ensure that you don’t get dehydrated. Frozen bottles of water are also essential. Keep a few in the freezer. Not only are they great in coolers to keep everything cold, the frigid water is lovely when it starts to melt.
When it’s hot, clothe kids appropriately. Choose loose, lightweight clothing such as cotton. Keep yourself and kids hydrated. Children can be especially prone to dehydration so it’s important to keep up their intake of liquids especially water. Keep a water jug in the fridge to make it easy to top up liquids.
The heat does make everyone lethargic so an afternoon siesta may be necessary. Cool yourself off with wet towels or cool packs on your arms or neck or soak your feet in cool water. Kids may find it difficult to settle so try giving them a bath to cool them down. Otherwise, give them a cold or frozen facecloth to cuddle or give them a spritz from a spray bottle of water stored in the fridge.
Don’t forget about pets as well. Make sure they have shade and stay rehydrates.
Watch for Heat-Related Illnesses
Signs of heat-related illness include nausea, vomiting, faintness and dizziness, loss of appetite, weakness, headaches, loss of sweating and reduced urine output. If you feel unwell, seek medical advice from your doctor or nearest hospital.
For more information, visit the NSW Health website for information about staying healthy in the heat. If you’re not sure if you’re drinking enough water, check out their urine colour chart.