Stay healthy in the heat
A heatwave is a period of extreme high temperature, normally defined as a 24-hour period where the average temperature is 30°C or more.
Heatwaves and extreme heat can have a significant impact on the community’s health, causing heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- muscle weakness or cramps
- pale skin
- high temperature.
If untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heatstroke, which can cause irreversible damage. Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- intense thirst
- hot, red and dry skin
- a sudden rise in temperature
- loss of consciousness.
People most at risk during heatwaves include:
- the elderly
- pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
- babies and small children
- people with a disability
- people with chronic health conditions such as respiratory or heart conditions
- anyone who cannot get relief from the heat for a couple of hours a day
- people who live alone or have limited contact with others.
There are a few simple things people should keep in mind to protect themselves during periods of extreme heat.
Keep out of the heat when you can
- Stay in the coolest room in the house, especially at night
- Spend at least 2-3 hours a day in a cool place
- Avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day
- Minimise physical activity, especially during the day
- Stay in the shade
- Check weather reports and stock up on food and other items to reduce the need to go out in hot weather.
Keep yourself cool
- Take a cool shower or bath
- Use cold packs and wraps, wet towels, sponging and footbaths
- Wear light loose fitting clothes made of natural materials
- When outside, wear a light coloured wide brimmed hat
- Drink water regularly and avoid drinks with sugar or alcohol
Naturally cool your home
- During the day, close windows and blinds (external blinds are the most effective)
- At night, open windows and blinds (if safe) when the temperature cools
- If you use air conditioning, close all doors and windows and do not set the temperature too low (you should still think it’s warm!)
- If you use a fan, have it blowing across a tub of water and remember to stay hydrated.
Talk to your health service if you have a health issue: you could be at risk
- Keep medicines below 25°C or in the fridge (information should be on the medicine package)
- Seek medical advice if you are suffering from a medical condition (especially respiratory and heart problems) or taking multiple medications.
Check in on those who may struggle in the heat
- Help anyone who may be at risk in the heat, especially the elderly, people with limited mobility or anyone who is sick or living alone
- Checking in on a neighbour or relative once a day could save their life.
Help people who are feeling unwell
- Get help if you or someone else feels dizzy, weak, anxious or has an intense thirst and headache
- Move to a cool place as soon as possible and rest
- Drink water to rehydrate
- If painful muscular spasms are being experienced or if someone has passed out, seek medical attention immediately.
For further information about how to prevent heat-related illness, visit www.health.vic.gov.au/environment/heatwave
A poster with tips on how to beat the heat can also be downloaded:
Beat the Heat poster (278.44kB)
Beat the Heat poster - Chinese (400.53kB)
Beat the Heat poster - Greek (204.97kB)
Beat the Heat poster - Italian (201.86kB)
Beat the Heat poster - Vietnamese (209.85kB)
Health Promotion Officer
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