Kids and elderly at greatest risk as Australian summer heats up
Extreme heat can be deadly, and the risk is much higher for those over 65, children, pregnant or nursing mothers, and people with certain medical conditions. Bupa GP Dr Tim Ross has urged everyone to be on alert.
With much of Australia experiencing sweltering heat, taking simple steps to prevent heat-related illness can save a life.
Many elderly Australians live alone and are at a high risk of developing heat-related illness. If you know someone who is at risk, check on them throughout the day and ensure they have access to a cool place and plenty of fluids.
Exposure to extreme heat can cause rashes, cramping, dizziness or fainting, and heat exhaustion.
Signs of heat-related illness include appearing pale, excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting.
If someone is experiencing these symptoms move them to a cool place, remove excess clothing, and drink water. Consult a medical professional if symptoms persist.
Left untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heatstroke, a serious medical emergency, where body temperature rises above 40.5 degrees Celsius and internal systems start shutting down.
Call 000 and request an ambulance as soon as someone shows signs of heatstroke.
Dr Tim Ross’ tips for preventing heat-related illness
Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water, even when you don’t feel thirsty, to prevent dehydration. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, as well as very cold water which may shock your system and cause cramps.
Keep up your energy – Eat smaller meals more often. Cold meals and salads are best.
Stay cool – Stick to well-ventilated spaces where air can flow around you. Use a fan or air conditioning to lower the temperature, or put your feet in cold water to reduce body heat.
Plan ahead - restrict strenuous activity to the cooler parts of the day where possible and limit time in the sun.
Be sun smart - If you need to go outside cover exposed skin with lightweight clothing and wear a hat, use high SPF sunscreen, and stick to shaded areas where possible.