Heat can be a serious risk to our health and wellbeing, so we need to carefully manage our daily activity during an extreme weather event.
Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness such as cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. But some people are more at risk:
- seniors (over 65 years, particularly those living alone without air-conditioning)
- the overweight or obese
- pregnant and nursing mothers
- people with a chronic illness, such as:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- kidney disease
- people with health conditions that impede sweating, such as scleroderma, cystic fibrosis and extensive scarring from burns
- people with limited or poor mobility
- people taking medications that may interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature
Tips for Staying Healthy in the Heat
- Hydrate - drink extra water, even if you're not thirsty. (Please note: if your doctor normally limits your fluids, check how much to drink during hot weather)
- Energy - conserve your energy. Refrain from doing strenuous activity such as sport, home improvement, gardening etc.
- Air-conditioning - spend as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings. (For example, shopping centres, libraries or cinemas). You can also keep yourself cool by using damp towels on the back of your neck, splashing cool water on your face and taking cool showers in the day and night.
- Talk to people - check up on:
- older, sick or frail friends
- people with disabilities or medical conditions
- people with young children
- people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- neighbours and relatives
- never leave children, pets or those that require special care in a parked car
- ensure your pets or companion animals are also well hydrated and have plenty of shade when they're outside.
- avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and sugary or fizzy drinks: they make dehydration worse
- eat little and often rather than large meals – try to eat cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water.
- stay out of the sun completely if possible. When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 30+) and a hat at all times.
- wear lightweight light-coloured loose clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible.
- keep your house cool by drawing the curtains or external blinds to block the sun.
- Ensure that meat, seafood, and dairy products are always stored below 5˚C.
Visit The Department of Health website to download the Staying Healthy in the Heat brochure.
Power Outages due to Heat
Power outages can occur during periods of extreme heat. Be prepared by having the following items to hand:
- extra batteries
- bottled water
- first aid kit
- contact details of your electricity provider
See VicEmergency's Guide to Power Outages for more information.