Australian summers are as diverse as they are famous. In the northern part of Australia, you are likely to experience humidity up to 90% at times. Humidity will cause you to sweat more and can affect energy levels and physical health. In the southern states, an intensely hot dry heat is more the norm.
What are the risks of hot weather?
Heat affects all of us differently. Older people, babies and young children can be more susceptible than others. They can lose fluids quickly resulting in dehydration.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration or overheating of the body can result from extreme heat which in turn may result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. If feeling the effects of heat cramps, clear juices or electrolytes can help alleviate them. Heatstroke is considered a medical emergency and should be treated immediately. During extreme heat existing medical conditions may worsen.
What can I do to stay safe in the heat?
- Hydration is essential during extreme heat. Drinking cool water regularly is key, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol or fluids containing caffeine.
- Spending as much time as you can in cool or air-conditioned areas is ideal. Use blinds and curtains to keep your home cool by blocking out the sun.
- Stay out of the sun during the day however if you do need to go outside ensure you wear a hat, light coloured loose cotton and linen clothing and find shade where possible.
- Cool showers, wet towels, ice packs, cool water spray bottles and putting your feet in cool water can also help keep you cool.
Preparedness is key
Being informed and prepared will assist with coping with the heat. Keep an ample supply of food, water and medicines to avoid needing to go out in the sun. Be mindful of medicine storage at the recommended temperature.
Regularly check that your fans, air-conditioners, cooling systems are working well. Identify older, young or sick family, friends and neighbours who may require assistance.
Keep this checklist handy for the summer months ahead
During a heat wave or extreme heat:
- Stay informed with current news reports.
- Stay hydrated
- Consume smaller meals more often
- Wear light coloured, loose fitting, lightweight apparel
- Stay indoors and avoid strenuous tasks in the hottest part of days
- Keep doors to unused rooms closed
- Use fans to circulate air
- Don’t forget your furry friends. If you can’t bring animals/pets inside, ensure they have plenty of fresh water, shade and watch for symptoms of overheating.
If you find yourself feeling unwell during extreme heat, seek medical help by contacting your doctor or presenting at your nearest ED. If you feel you’re experiencing serious symptoms call 000 (112 on a mobile phone). You can also speak to a registered nurse at Health Direct on 1800 022 222.