Heatwaves are known to increase the incidence of illness and death, particularly among vulnerable population groups. Vulnerable population groups include:
- Older people (65 years and older)
- Children under five years old
- Pregnant or nursing mothers
- People with a pre-existing medical condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or mental illness
- People with a condition that impairs the body's ability to regulate its own temperature – for example, multiple sclerosis
- Those living alone with little social contact
- People taking certain medications, such as those for depression or insomnia
- People with a disability.
If you are concerned that someone may be suffering heat-related illness, encourage them to see their doctor.
Where to get help
- In an emergency, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance
- Your doctor
- Bellarine Community Health Inc., Nelson Road, Point Lonsdale, telephone 03 5258 0888
- Nurse-on-Call, telephone 1300 606 024.
What you can do to prevent heat-related illness
Before the hot weather:
- See your doctor and make sure your medical condition is as well controlled as possible.
- Undertake regular moderate exercise in warmer weather before severe hot weather begins so that the body can adapt to and cope better with hot weather.
Once the weather is hot:
- Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids. (If your doctor normally limits your fluids or you are on fluid tablets, you may need to check how much to drink while the weather is hot.)
- Avoid alcohol because of its dehydrating effects.
- Stay indoors, if possible with air-conditioning, or in the shade.
- Take a cool shower or bath.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
- Reduce physical activity.
- Check on older, sick and frail people who may need help coping with the heat.
- Never leave anyone in a closed parked car.
- Don't rely on fans to cool people unless they are well hydrated and there is adequate ventilation.
- Know the signs and symptoms of excessive heat exposure and know how to respond.
If you must be out in the heat:
- Limit outdoor activity to morning or evening hours.
- Protect yourself from the sun and Slip, Slop, Slap when outside by using sunscreen, wearing a hat and covering exposed skin.
- Rest regularly in the shade and drink fluids frequently.
- What to do for heat cramps:
- Stop activity and sit quietly in a cool place.
- Increase fluid intake.
- Rest for a few hours before returning to activity.
- Seek medical help if cramps persist.
What to do for heat exhaustion:
- Get the person to a cool area and lie them down.
- Remove outer clothing.
- Wet skin with cool water or wet cloths.
- Seek medical advice.
What to do for heat stroke:
- Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
- Get the person to a cool, shady area and lie them down.
- Remove clothing and wet skin with water, fanning continuously.
- Position an unconscious person on their side and clear their airway.
To read Council’s Heatwave Plan click here.