Scientists say some official heatwave advice is based on old wives' tales

A photograph of the setup at Sydney University's Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory
10 January 2021

Imagine it's a typical summer's day and you've just heard predictions temperatures are set to top 45 degrees Celsius in some parts of Australia.

Key points:

  • An academic who studies the best way to cool down says a lot of public health advice about heatwaves is based on old wives' tales
  • Most public health advice in Australia is similar, but some states offer some unusual tips
  • Scientists hope to create evidence-based advice using a new sophisticated climate chamber

You turn down the air conditioner to 18 degrees, sit down with a salad and spend the day sucking on ice blocks.

Well, according to science, none of these things are the best way to cool down in a heatwave, yet they are among the recommendations made by Australia's public health authorities.

That's not to say turning on the air-conditioner is wrong, Professor of Thermoregulatory Physiology Ollie Jay says.

Professor Jay and his team at the University of Sydney study the best ways to cool down.

Read the full article on the ABC News website, featuring commentary by Dr Liz Hanna