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Heat Health

A Heat Health Alert is issued by Department of Health and Human Services when there is a prolonged period of excessive heat forecast in the State of Victoria which is likely to have an impact on human health.

These extreme heat events can also affect community infrastructure such as power supply, transport and other services.

Extreme heat can make existing medical conditions worse and cause a heat – related illness, which may be fatal. The most important things to remember are:

Keep cool
Drink plenty of water
Stay out of the sun
Look after yourself and others

See the Department of Health and Human Services website for more information on Heat Health Alerts and the Better Health Channel for information on how to cope and stay safe in extreme heat.

Who is most at risk?

People most at risk during extreme heat events are:

People aged over 65 years, especially those living alone
People who have a medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
People taking medications that may affect the way the body reacts to heat
People with problematic alcohol or other drug use
People with a disability who may not be able to identify or communicate their discomfort or thirst
People who are overweight or obese
Pregnant women and breast feeding mothers
Babies and young children
People who work or are physically active outdoors.

Preparing for hot weather

Check that your fan or air-conditioner works well
Stock up on food, water and medication to avoid having to go out in the heat
Leading up to the summer months prepare your home by installing awnings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun

Preparing for power failure

It is very common to lose power during extreme heat events.

You can be prepared by:

Thinking about how you would cope without power
Ensure you have a torch, a fully charged mobile phone or a telephone that will work without electricity, a battery operated radio and sufficient batteries
Ensure you have frozen blocks / water bottles

Coping with the heat

Look after yourself and keep in touch with sick or frail family, friends and neighbours
Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty
Keep yourself cool by using wet towels, putting your feet in cool water and taking cool (not cold) showers
Spend as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings
Block out the sun at home during the day by closing curtains and blinds
Don’t leave children or animals in parked vehicles
Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day
If you must go out, wear light coloured, loose fitting clothing and a hat
Eat smaller meals more often and cold meals such as salads. Make sure you store refrigerated food properly and discard if it has been out of adequate temperature control for more than 4 hours.
Avoid strenuous activity such as sport, home improvements and gardening
Watch or listen to news reports that provide more information during a heatwave
It is likely that extreme heat events will occur in conjunction with severe, extreme and Code Red Fire Danger days. Always remain up to date with Fire Warnings for your local area and act in accordance with your Fire Ready Plan.


Heat related illness

Extreme heat may cause illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It may also worsen pre-existing conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

Heat Cramps

Muscle pains
Spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs

Heat Exhaustion

Pale complexion and sweating
Rapid heart rate
Muscle cramps and weakness
Dizziness and headaches
Nausea and vomiting
Fainting

Heat Stroke (A Life Threatening Emergency – Call 000)

Similar symptoms to heat exhaustion
Dry skin with no sweating
Mental condition worsens and causes confusion
Seizure
Stroke-like symptoms or collapsing
Unconsciousness

Medical Contact Information

For 24 hour health advice contact NURSE ON CALL 1300 60 60 24

For life threatening emergencies 000

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