Survive the heat! Looking after yourself and others during extreme heat

 

Survive the heat tips

Water bottle iconDrink plenty of water

  • Keep a full drink bottle with you.
  • Take small sips of water frequently.
  • If your doctor normally limits your fluids, check how much you should drink during hot weather. 

Car iconNever leave anyone in a car

  • Never leave kids, adults or pets in cars – the temperature can double in minutes.
  • Visit the Never Leave Kids in Cars page for more information on kids in hot cars.

Fan iconStay somewhere cool

  • Spend as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings (shopping centres, libraries, cinemas or community centres). 
  • Keep yourself cool by using wet towels, putting your feet in cool water and taking cool (not cold) showers. 
  • Block out the sun at home during the day by closing curtains and blinds. 
  • Open the windows when there is a cool breeze. 
  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. 
  • If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you.
  • Dress yourself and those in your care lightly.
  • Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres like cotton and linen. 
  • Eat smaller meals more often and cold meals such as salads. 
  • Make sure food that needs refrigeration is properly stored. 
  • Avoid intense activity like exercise, renovating and gardening. 
  • Watch or listen to news reports for more information.
  • Don’t forget your pets – a cool bath, wet towel to lie on, a place next to a fan and plenty of fresh water work just as well for animals.
     

Clock iconPlan ahead

  • Keep up to date with weather forecasts – watch the news daily, check the BOM forecast online and read the current heat health alert on health.vic.
  • Cancel non-essential outings and plan essential activities for the coolest part of the day.
  • Stock up on food, water and medicines so you don’t have to go out in the heat.
  • Visit your doctor to check if changes are needed to your medicines during extreme heat. 
  • Store medicines safely at the recommended temperature. 
  • Check that your fan or air-conditioner works well. Have your air-conditioner serviced if necessary. 
  • Prepare for power failures – ensure you have a torch, battery-operated radio, fully charged mobile phone or battery back-up, food items that don’t require refrigeration, medications, plenty of drinking water and other essential items. 
  • Look at the things you can do to make your home cooler such as installing window coverings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun.

Child with adult iconCheck in on others

  • Look after those most at risk in the heat – your neighbour living alone, older people, young children, people with a medical condition and don’t forget your pets.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family who may need help. Call or visit them at least once on any extreme heat day. 
  • Encourage them to drink plenty of water. 
  • Offer to help family, friends and neighbours who are aged over 65 or have an illness by doing shopping or other errands so they can avoid the heat.
  • Take them somewhere cool for the day or have them stay the night if they are unable to stay cool in their home. 
  • If you observe symptoms of heat-related illness, seek medical help.

 

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious conditions occurring when the body’s temperature rises and the internal organs start to shut down.

 

Who is at risk?

Extreme heat can affect anybody however the people most at risk are:

 

  • aged over 65 years, especially those living alone

  • people with a medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness

  • taking medications that may affect the way the body reacts to heat such as allergy medicines (antihistamines); blood pressure and heart medicines (beta-blockers); seizure medicines (anticonvulsants); water pills (diuretics); antidepressants or antipsychotics

  • pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers

  • babies and young children

  • overweight or obese

  • people with problematic alcohol or drug use

  • people with a disability

  • people who have trouble moving around such as those who are bed-bound or in wheelchairs

  • people who work or exercise outdoors

  • people who have recently arrived from cooler climates.

If you or anyone you know feels unwell on a hot day call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24, or call 000 in an emergency.

Tips to survive the heat

There are simple things you can do to stay safe in the heat:

  • Drink water – even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink water. Take a bottle with you always. Drink at least two litres of water a day to keep your body hydrated.
  • Hot cars kill – never leave kids, adults or pets in hot cars. The temperature inside a parked car can double within minutes.
  • Keep cool – seek out air-conditioned buildings, draw your blinds, use a fan, take cool showers and dress in light and loose clothing made from natural fabrics. If you don’t have air conditioning consider visiting a friend who does or make the most of cooler, public spaces such as a shopping centre or public library if you can’t beat the heat at home.
  • Plan ahead – schedule activities in the coolest part of the day and avoid exercising in the heat. If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you.
  • Help others – look after those most at risk in the heat – your neighbour living alone, the elderly, the young, people with a medical condition and don’t forget your pets.
 

Plan ahead for extreme heat

There are simple things you can do to prepare for extreme heat:

  • Stock up on food, water and medicines so you don’t have to go out in the heat
  • Store medicines safely at the recommended temperature
  • Check that your fan or air-conditioner works well. Have your air-conditioner serviced if necessary
  • Look at the things you can do to make your home coolers such as installing window coverings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun.

If you or anyone you know feels unwell on a hot day call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24, or call 000 in an emergency.

Recognising heat-related illness

Heat can cause illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion which can lead to the life-threatening condition, heatstroke. Heatstroke is fatal in up to 80% of cases.

Heat can also worsen the condition of someone who already has a medical issue such as heart disease or diabetes. Most reported illness and death is due to the effect of heat on those who are already ill.

If you or someone you know is unwell call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24 for 24-hour health advice or see your doctor. 

In an emergency, call 000.

 

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