Coping in the summer heat

21 Dec 2023

It’s important to keep yourself, and others safe when it comes to fun in the sun this summer (especially in New Zealand’s harsh sun). Here are some helpful tips and reminders for making the most of the hotter and sunnier weather.  


Keep an eye on equipment during the summer.
Because most wheelchair seating is black or has metal components they can get very hot when in partial or full sun.
A simple tip, is to place a towel over equipment or put it in the shade when it’s not in use.
Always check equipment that has been in the sun before sitting in it, holding it, or assisting someone to use it to prevent any potential burns.


People with Cerebral Palsy can be particularly affected by summer temperatures.  
They may get dehydrated quickly due to common issues with temperature regulation, altered sensation and sensitive skin. 
Some people may not be able to easily communicate that they need a drink of water. 

These are some of the signs of dehydration that individuals, families and caregivers can look out for: 

  • a dry, sticky mouth and tongue  
  • feeling lightheaded or weak  
  • a headache  
  • feeling very tired  
  • dark yellow or brown wee 
  • not going to the toilet as much, or fewer wet nappies (or not as wet as usual).  

Ways to prevent dehydration 

Water is the best, most natural way to keep yourself hydrated. 
Always drink plenty of fluids during the day, especially when you’re out in the sun.  
Avoid high-sugar, high-calorie drinks such as undiluted fruit juice, fizzy drinks and sports drinks. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks can make dehydration worse.  

Swallowing difficulties may mean it is easier to have small amounts of drink often, rather than a large amount in one go.

Ice blocks are a good alternative to having a drink.  

Eat fruit and vegetable high in water such as watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, apples, grapes, oranges, and pineapple. 

Where possible, try to do outdoor activities in the cooler parts of the day.

Keep a glass of water on hand for humid nights.  

Skin care 

People with Cerebral Palsy can have skin that is extra sensitive and can be prone to sunburn and damage.
This can be due to how their Cerebral Palsy presents and underlying health conditions.

To help prevent sun damage, be sure to cover up, wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, and apply sunscreen regularly before going out in the sun and utilise any shade.  
For people who wear splints, remember to apply sunscreen to the little patches of skin that will still be visible.  
Applying sunscreen to the backs of legs and knees during tummy-time is very important, as is sunscreen on the back of the neck for wheelchair users.

Click here for more information about applying sunscreen.