Exposure to heatwaves and long periods of extreme heat can cause serious illness and even death. Planning ahead and being prepared for extreme heat is important.
Heat-related illness includes dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and worsening of existing medical conditions. If you have a medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease and if you take certain medications, heat can make your symptoms worse. Be prepared and take four simple steps to prevent heat-related illness.
Drink Plenty of Water and Non-Alcoholic Fluids
Avoid alcohol and drinks with excessive sugar. Take a water bottle with you and fill up at one of the drinking fountains located in many of our parks and town centres. Note: if your doctor normally limits your fluids or you are on fluid tablets, you may need to check how much to drink while the weather is hot.
Stay out of the direct sunlight, wear lightweight, light coloured, loose clothing and avoid strenuous activity. Keep your house cool by drawing blinds or curtains to keep out of the sun. If you have an air-conditioner, use it efficiently. If not, keep air flowing by opening windows and turning on any fans. If you can’t cool your house, consider going to an air-conditioned public space such as a shopping centre, library, cinema or to an indoor public pool.
Take Care of Others
Check on other people including neighbours who are at high risk in extreme heat such as the elderly, infants and young children, people with chronic medical problems and people who are socially isolated. NEVER leave children or pets in parked cars during hot weather.
Have a Plan
Regularly check your local forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology on your radio, TV or on the internet. Get advice from your doctor about whether your medication and/or your medical conditions may affect what you should do if it gets extremely hot. Make sure you know who you are going to call (who may need help and who could provide help to you if needed) - make a list of telephone numbers and exchange your own number with other trusted people.
Kids in Cars
Never leave children alone in a car. On a typical 30 degree Australian summer's day, the temperature inside a parked car can be as high as 70 degrees. Even with windows down slightly, temperatures can increase very quickly.
If you find a child unattended in a car:
- Look for the parents or carers
- If they can't be found, call Triple Zero (000) or NRMA on 13 11 22.
For more information, see the Kidsafe information sheet.
Stay Sun Safe
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a major cause of skin cancer. Australia has some of the highest UV levels in the world – on a fine day in January, UV radiation is strong enough to cause sunburn in just 11 minutes.
- Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible
- Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or higher) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun
- Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears
- Seek shade
- Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.
For information on how to prepare for and stay healthy in the heat, how to recognise and treat heat related illness, and how to care for people who are at risk of heat-related illness see the NSW Health - Beat the Heat website.