Stay cool: high temperatures can be deadly

With more hot weather on the way forecast, here's how to look after yourself, families, neighbours and pets.

Health professionals are warning now is the time to help people prepare a hot and potentially weather conditions, with extreme heat killing more people in Australia than any other natural disaster.

High temperatures are forecast for much of central and south east Australia, and it will be warm in the west.

In Adelaide, parts of the Tour Down Under have been affected and in Melbourne, the Australian Open will swelter through temperatures nudging 40.

Yep, we're only halfway through summer.

Bupa GP Dr Tim Ross says it's time to protect yourselves, and your loved ones. 

"Keep an eye out for friends and family who may be vulnerable, and don't forget to look after yourselves too. The sun brings a great burn with the heat, so stay in the shade, or cover up. Either way make sure you have sunscreen on. Wear a hat, and long sleeves are a good idea" he said.

Those at the highest risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke on hot days include people aged over 65, those with a pre-existing medical condition, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, babies and young children.

"Being in the shade makes a significant difference for heat stroke. Heat stroke is as simple as a cooked head. Being in exposed sun without a hat, or even with a hat for long periods, heats the skull and affects your brain activity, leading to fatigue, nausea and sometimes confusion," said Dr Ross.

You can find out more about the symptoms and treatments for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cramps and heat rash here.

During the 2014 heatwave the number of deaths increased by 167. In January 2014, when temperatures hit 44 degrees, paramedics experienced a 700 per cent rise in call outs for cardiac arrests in one day.

The Victorian Government has launched a new campaign to help keep people safe called ‘Survive the Heat’, urging people to take heatwaves just as seriously as any other natural disaster.

“Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can affect anyone, but isolated elderly people are especially at risk. That’s why we need to look out for one another and check on your neighbours,” said Acting Minister for Health and Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos.

“November was the second warmest on record in Victoria and we’re expecting above average temperatures for summer. Taking hot days seriously will save lives,” she said.

Following a few simple steps can make a big difference:

  • Drink more water
  • Never leave anyone in a car, including pets
  • Stay somewhere cool
  • Keep up to date with weather forecasts and plan ahead
  • Check in on others

Dr Tim Ross warns dry heat can often be decieving. 

"Hot weather makes you lose your fluids faster, so you need to drink plenty and often. If you are in dry heat, you won't notice this so much as your sweat just evaporates, which is even more dangerous."

If you’re worried that you or someone else may be suffering from a heat related illness, you can call nurse on call 1300 60 60 24, speak to your doctor, or in an emergency call 000.

If you’re concerned about aging loved ones, Bupa GP Dr Tim Ross provides advice on how to protect aging loved ones in the heat. And don't forget about your furry loved ones, here are seven ways to keep pets cool on hot days.

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