Heatwaves require a different approach to managing your health. Talk to your doctor about what to do in a heatwave to ensure any medication you are taking won’t be affected. Once that’s settled, here are some other ways to stay healthy in the heat:
Daily Living Plan
#1 Have a plan
Think in advance about how you will to cope in the heat, how you will keep your home cool and what home improvements you need to make. Print a copy of the Heatwave Action Plan and stick it to your fridge as a reminder of actions you can take to beat the heat.
#2 Have a cool drink
Keeping well hydrated is very important in hot weather. It’s easy to get dehydrated so it’s better to drink even if you don’t feel thirsty. Drinking water is best. Avoid sugary and hot drinks. Alcohol makes dehydration worse and will impair your judgement.
#3 Stay in the shade
Direct sunlight will make you feel hotter and it will increase your risk of heatstroke and other heat related effects. Avoid gardening on hot days, but if you need to go outside do it early in the morning or in the evening and make sure you wear a hat.
#4 Take a break from the heat
Even a short visit to a cooler location can help. Try your local library, shopping centre or visit someone who lives in a cooler space or has air conditioning.
#5 Reduce your physical activity
If you normally go for a walk or take part in an exercise class, it might be a good idea to have a break on hot days. Walking the dog in the heat can be dangerous for you and your and your dog on hot days.
#6 Go shopping before it gets hot
If it gets really hot you may not be able to go to the shops. Make sure you keep an eye on the weather report and stock up on anything you need before a heatwave.
#7 Dress for the weather
During hot weather wear sleeveless tops, light dresses, loose fitting shorts or lightweight pants.
Light colours are better than dark colours. You can also use a cool pack or wet cloth on your body.
At night, If you feel more comfortable with a sheet keep it loosely draped over the bed. Cotton is the best fabric both for pyjamas and sheets. Avoid synthetic materials.
#8 If you have symptoms, make a call
If you feel dizzy, nauseous, have a bad headache, lose balance, get short of breath or just feel sick call Nurse on Call (1300 60 60 24), your doctor or even an ambulance (000). You are not bothering them and they would prefer you call. More information on symptoms is available here…
Heat Illness: Know the signs
Recognising heat-related illness
Heat can cause illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion which can lead to the life-threatening condition, heatstroke. Heatstroke is fatal in up to 80% of cases.
Heat can also worsen the condition of someone who already has a medical issue such as heart disease or diabetes. Most reported illness and death is due to the effect of heat on those who are already ill.
If you or someone you know is unwell call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24 for 24-hour health advice or see your doctor.
Are you at risk of heat-related illness?
While most people find extremely hot weather and heatwaves uncomfortable, some people are more at risk of heat illness than others. These include:
• elderly people aged over 75
• babies and young children
• people with long term health conditions, for example heart or respiratory disease, diabetes or circulatory diseases
• people who are obese
• people taking certain medicines
• people who are socially isolated
• people who work outdoors or in hot and poorly ventilated areas
• people engaging in vigorous physical activity in hot weather
• people who are not acclimatised to the heat, for example overseas visitors.
It’s important to keep drinking water even if you don’t feel thirsty.
In an emergency, call 000.
Know the symptoms and treatment of heat-related illness – visit the Better Health Channel for information.
Further information & additional resources
Better Health Channel
Department of Health
Central Victorian local libraries and opening times:
Macedon Ranges Shire Council
Mount Alexander Shire Council