“For the Retirement homes air conditioning in summer should be a legal requirement like heating in the winter”, say Canadian experts

Here in the UK we’re used to seeing news stories and appeals geared towards helping the elderly to keep warm in the winter, including Government initiatives like the Winter Fuel Allowance designed to make heating affordable for pensioners. Retirement homes are expected to keep rooms at a high enough temperature for comfort as part of their health and safety objectives.

In Canada there’s a move towards having that same kind of legislation to control the sometimes unbearable heat, particularly in public facilities like public housing and care homes. The heat in the height of summer can be life threatening, particularly for elderly people in retirement homes who are more vulnerable and less able to cope with such conditions as younger and healthier people.

Canadian experts told CBC news that heat needs to be considered as dangerous, if not more dangerous than cold, because more elderly people die during hot spells than cold ones. With Canada having more cold days than hot, most buildings aren’t as able to deal with the heat as they are the cold, so air conditioning is sadly lacking in a lot of cases.

aircon for elderly people

In addition, there are relatively few things that can be done about excess heat. When it’s cold, piling on extra clothes and turning up the heating is always an option, but in the heat there are precious few options left once you’ve removed as many clothes as you can and opened the windows. At the moment, many by-laws prevent utility companies from turning off the heat in winter even if a property has unpaid bills, because of the threat to health and potential danger to life this could cause.

Canada has ‘cooling centres’ where people, including the homeless, can go during the day to keep cool, but barely any are open during the night, so warm nights can still be a big problem for those who don’t have the money or facilities to keep cool after dark.

There are several measures being proposed to help the vulnerable in Canada during the heat, including keeping cooling centres open 24 hours a day, and requiring landlords to modify buildings so they’re better able to cope with the heat as well as the cold.

It might sound like an unlikely problem to affect us here in the UK, but with the rise in global temperatures and the heatwaves we’ve seen recently, it might soon be time for us to think along the same lines and modify our buildings for heat as well as cold.

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