Survive the heat
A long hot summer is expected this year, increasing the risk of serious heat-related illness.
During extreme heat, it is easy to become dehydrated and overheat. If this happens, you may develop heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke. Heatstroke is a medical emergency that can result in permanent damage to vital organs or even death, if not treated immediately.
With heatwaves becoming a regular feature of the Victorian summer, it’s important to plan ahead and consider how you can look after yourself and others when the extreme heat hits.
Extreme heat can affect anybody, however the people most at risk are:
- People aged over 65 years, especially those living alone;
- People with a medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness;
- People 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;
- People who are overweight or obese;
- People with problematic alcohol or drug use;
- People with a disability;
- People who have difficulty moving around independently;
- People who work or exercise outdoors; and
- People who have recently arrived from cooler climates.
There are simple things you can do to stay safe in the heat:
- Drink water – even if you don't feel thirsty. Always take a bottle of water with you.
- 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.
- 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 –neighbours living alone, the elderly, the young, people with a medical condition. Don’t forget your pets.
If you or someone you know feels unwell on a hot day, call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24. In an emergency, call 000 without delay.
To prepare for extreme heat:
- Stock up on food, water and medicines to avoid the need 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.
- Investigate ways to make your home cooler, such as installing window coverings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun.