Heat events and heatwaves are becoming more frequent, lasting longer and are more intense.
Australia’s greatest health threats from climate change are expected to come from extreme weather events such as heatwaves. Given that heat currently causes more illness and death than any other emergency, it is vitally important that we better understand extreme heat and how to best manage the impact that it has on us.
Take care in hot weather
Everyone needs to take care in hot weather, but some people are at higher risk of heat illness, including:
- Older adults - because they are more likely to have chronic disease
- Pregnant women - because they may be more sensitive to the effects of heat
- Infants and young children - because they spend more time outdoors engaged in physical activity
- People who have a chronic or acute illness, like heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease or gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and/or vomiting)
- People who take certain medications, which can make it more difficult to keep cool during hot weather
- People working in a hot environment, for example labourers, gardeners, fire fighters
- People who live alone or are socially isolated, as they are less likely to have support networks
Plan to ahead to keep yourself cool during a heatwave
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast
- Wear loose fitting clothing
- Stay out of the sun
- Try to be indoors during the hottest part of the day
- Close windows and doors to keep the heat out. Curtains with light-coloured lining can help to reflect heat
- Use air conditioning or fans if you have them
- Stay hydrated - drink water! Avoid hot or sugary drinks including tea or coffee as they can make dehydration worse. Take a drink bottle with you if you have to be outside.
- Keep in contact with elderly friends, neighbours and relatives during a heat wave in case you or they need any help
- Know who to call if you need help
- Follow your doctor’s advice if you have any have any medical conditions