Heatwave

Warning: Extreme heat can cause illness and death.

Heat illness is most likely to occur during a series of hot days, particularly when temperatures remain high overnight. Even single hot days can affect some people.

You can do some of these things to protect yourself and others during hot weather:

  • drink plenty of water
  • keep out of the direct sun
  • seek medical help if you or someone you know becomes unwell or seems affected by the heat

For more information, please visit the Department of Health website.

WHO IS AT RISK?

Everyone is potentially at risk of heat illness in extremely hot weather, but some people have a higher risk of becoming ill than others.

Those at higher risk are:

  • older people, particularly the frail or over 65;
  • babies and young children;
  • pregnant women;
  • people who live on their own or who don’t live close to other people;
  • people who work outdoors or are physically active (gardeners or manual workers);
  • people with a serious chronic condition (heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes, serious mental illness or very overweight);
  • people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease;
  • people taking certain types of medication, including those that affect sweating and body temperature;
  • people who have difficulty keeping cool (for example, those with a physical disability);
  • a person with a high temperature from an existing infection; and
  • anyone confined to bed.

BEFORE

  • Talk to your neighbours, relatives and close friends and plan how to keep in regular contact in a period of extreme heat.
  • Check the weather forecast regularly.
  • Check with your doctor to see if your medications:
    • put you at higher risk of health problems in extremely hot weather or make you more affected by extreme heat; or
    • will be affected by the heat and, if so, how to store them safely.
  • Put together an emergency kit that includes:
    • a battery-operated or wind-up radio;
    • a battery-operated or wind-up torch;
    • spare batteries;
    • a first aid kit;
    • a mobile phone and charger;
    • a list of important phone numbers;
    • special items for any vulnerable people such as babies and the disabled;
    • adequate supply of non-perishable food and a safe source of water for every person (and pets); and
    • a good supply of medications and prescriptions.
  • Prepare your house:
    • if you have a fan or air-conditioner, make sure it is working (and set to ‘cool’);
    • know the coolest room in your house and make sure you can get to it easily;
    • if you do not have a fan or air-conditioner, open doors and windows where safe to do so;
    • erect shading over windows that receive direct sunlight and draw blinds and curtains to keep out the heat during the day; and
    • alternatively, spend the day in a cool place, such as a shopping centre or library.

DURING

  • For the most up-to-date warnings, go to TasALERT, listen to your local ABC radio station or visit the Bureau of Meteorology’s website.
  • Keep out of the heat as much as possible and keep physical activities to a minimum.
  • Keep children and pets indoors.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice if you have any medical conditions.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks, alcohol, caffeine and hot drinks.
  • Splash cool water on your face and the back of your neck if you are feeling hot.
  • Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting cotton clothing.
  • Avoid using lights and ovens inside the house.
  • Be alert for signs of heat illness in yourself and others. These include headaches, dizziness or fainting, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, irritability and muscle spasms or cramps.

If you suspect heat illness:

  • stop what you are doing and rest quietly in a cool place;
  • drink plenty of cool water;
  • wet skin with cool water or wet cloths, and consider having a cool shower or bath; and
  • seek medical advice if needed. Heat illness can be life-threatening.

If caring for others:

  • regularly check on family, friends and neighbours, especially if they live alone;
  • never leave babies, children or pets alone in a car, even if the air-conditioner is on; and
  • keep your pets out of the sun, and make sure they have plenty of cool water to drink. Add ice cubes to their drinking water to keep it cool for longer.

AFTER

  • continue to drink plenty of water;
  • seek medical advice if you feel unwell;
  • get in contact with family and friends;
  • get plenty of rest;
  • open doors and windows if safe to do so;
  • make changes to your home so it will be more comfortable next time (if possible); and
  • reflect on how well you coped and what you would do differently next time.

For more information, please visit the Department of Health website.