Heat kills more Australians than any other natural disaster. Be prepared this summer.
See your doctor if you are unwell. In an emergency, call 000.
Heat stroke is fatal in up to 80% of cases. Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature rises above 40.5 °C and the body’s internal systems start to shut down. A person suffering heat stroke may stagger, appear confused, have a fit or collapse and become unconscious.
In extreme heat, body temperature regulation is affected:
- The body can lose heat to, and gain heat from, the environment.
- Heat loss is controlled by the flow of blood to the skin and evaporation of sweat.
- When the environment is hot, sweating is the main means by which the body can increase heat loss.
- Sweating and heat loss can be impaired by humidity, excess fat, skin disorders and excessive layers of clothing.
- Heat loss can be helped by wind or fanning, and water.
Dehydration is another side effect of extreme heat:
- It is possible to sweat up to 15 litres per day.
- Thirst does not match all fluids lost by sweating, even if fluids are freely taken.
- Mild to moderate dehydration increases cardiac work and reduces fluid available for sweating.
- Even mild dehydration is associated with increased risk of injury, heat stress illness and poorer performance of complex tasks.
During extreme heat it is easy to become dehydrated or for your body to overheat. If this happens, you may develop heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke. Heatstroke is a medical emergency which can result in permanent damage to your vital organs, or even death, if not treated immediately. Extreme heat can also make existing medical conditions worse.
Extreme heat can affect anybody however the people most at risk:
- are aged over 65 years, especially those living alone
- have a medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
- are 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
- have problematic alcohol or drug use
- have a disability
- have trouble moving around such as those who are bed bound or in wheelchairs
- pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
- babies and young children
- are overweight or obese
- work or exercise outdoors
- have recently arrived from cooler climates.
5 Tips to Survive the Heat
Watch the following Video
Even if you don’t feel thirsty. Have plenty drinking water available. Take a bottle with you always! Remember, fluids are not just limited to water; they can be icy poles, weak tea or cordial.
Hot Cars Kill!
Never leave kids, older people or pets in cars. The temperature inside a parked car can double within minutes.
Seek out air-conditioned buildings, draw your blinds, use a fan & take cool showers. Dress in light and loose clothing made from natural fabrics.
Visit your doctor to check if changes are needed to your medicines during extreme heat. Store medicines safely at the recommended temperature. 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.
Look after those most at risk in the heat. Check in on your neighbour living alone, older people, the young & people with a medical condition. And don’t forget your pets!
For more information:
- Speak to your GP or Nurse.
- In an emergency, always call 000
- Visit Better Health Channel