SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Keep cool: use air conditioning or a fan, wear light and loose-fitting clothing, and keep skin wet, using a spray bottle or damp sponge and by taking cool showers.
- Stay hydrated: during days of extreme heat, keep drinking water before you feel thirsty, especially if outdoors or performing physical activity.
- Plan ahead: Cancel or reschedule activities for the coolest part of the day and avoid exercising and being outdoors in the heat.
- Check in with others. Let family, friends and neighbours know you are OK or check in with those at increased risk or who may need your support during days of extreme heat.
- Monitor the weather forecast and the Bureau of Meteorology Heatwave warnings online or via the Bureau’s app. Subscribe to receive Department of Health heat health warnings.
Heat-related health problems
During extreme heat it is easy to become dehydrated or for your body to overheat.
Heat can cause serious and potentially fatal health problems such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, trigger sudden events like heart attack or stroke, or worsen existing medical conditions like kidney or lung disease.
Staying safe in extreme heat
Prevent heat-related health problems by keeping cool and staying hydrated during hot weather. Plan ahead and check in with others.
- Use air conditioning if available. The cost of air-conditioning can be reduced by using a fan at the same time, and increasing the thermostat temperature on your AC unit to 26-27˚C.
- Electric fans can help cool the body when the indoor temperature is below 39-40˚C.
- Keep your skin wet using a spray bottle or damp sponge.
- Soak a towel in cool tap water and wrap it loosely around your head.
- Take cool showers or foot baths with cool tap water.
- Wrap ice cubes in a damp towel and drape around your neck.
- Wear light and loose-fitting clothing.
- Consider visiting an air-conditioned building such as a shopping centre or public library.
- Use blinds or curtains to block sun from shining directly through windows.
- Open windows and doors if you think it is hotter indoors than outdoors.
- During days when you are exposed to extreme heat, keep drinking water before you feel thirsty, especially if outdoors and performing physical activity. If your doctor has asked that you limit your fluid intake, ask them how much water you should drink during hot weather.
- Whenever you leave home, always take a water bottle with you.
- Watch for signs of dehydration like feeling thirsty, lightheaded, having a dry mouth, tiredness, having dark-coloured, strong-smelling urine or passing less urine than usual.
- During extreme heat, cancel or reschedule non-essential outings.
- Plan essential activities for the coolest part of the day. If you do have to go outside, take a water bottle with you, seek shade, and wear a hat and sunscreen for skin protection.
- Keep up to date with weather forecasts and warnings – via TV or radio, check the heatwave forecast online or via their app, and subscribe to receive from the Department of Health.
- Stock up on food, water and medicines so you don’t have to go out in the heat.
- Make sure that food and medicines are stored at appropriate temperatures.
- See your doctor to check if changes are needed to your medicines during extreme heat.
- Check that your fan or air-conditioner works well. Have your air-conditioner serviced if necessary.
- Power failures can happen during times of extreme heat – ensure you have a torch, battery-operated radio, fully charged mobile phone or battery back-up, food items that don’t require refrigeration, medications, plenty of drinking water and other essential items. Have a cool-box available to store ice or cool packs with medications.
- Look at the things you can do to make your home cooler such as installing reflecting coatings, insulation, glazing, external window awnings, shade cloths or external blinds, and planting trees to provide shade around the house.
Check in with others
- A quick call can make a big difference. Let family, friends and neighbours know you are OK or check in with those at increased risk or who may need your support during days of extreme heat.
Older people and extreme heat
People over 65 years are more susceptible to heat-related health problems because their bodies are less able to adjust to changes in temperature. They are also more likely to have underlying medical conditions and be taking medication that may interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
Older people with medical conditions should review their care plan with their doctor to ensure that these conditions are well-controlled before the weather gets hot. Ask your doctor if you are at increased risk of heat-related health problems in hot weather. The doctor may advise that you adjust your fluid intake, avoid certain medications or adjust the dosage during periods of extreme heat.
Children and extreme heat
Babies and young children need special care during hot weather because they are less able to cope with changes in temperature:
- Offer additional breast- or bottle-feeding to babies during hot weather and encourage children to drink regularly. The has more information about .
- During hot weather, dress babies and children in light, loose-fitting clothing.
- Babies in strollers can be kept cool by covering the stroller with a moist muslin/cotton cloth, preferably with a battery-operated clip-on fan if available. Keep the covering wet with a spray bottle.
People working or exercising outdoors in extreme heat
Working and exercising in the heat elevates the risk of heat related-health problems. For people outdoors during hot weather:
- Where possible, cancel outdoor work or heavy exercise or reschedule for a cooler day.
- Plan essential activities for the coolest part of the day.
- Rest breaks should be taken more often and for longer when possible. Shade and any natural air movement should be provided where possible.
- Outdoor misting fans, if available, can reduce air temperature and help cool the body.
- – generally, drink at least half a litre of fluids in the 2 hours before exercising. During your exercise, aim to drink about 200 ml every 20 minutes or so.
How you can help others
- Checking in with them regularly to see how they’re coping, especially if they are living alone. Call them at least once on any extreme heat day. Ask them to call you if they have any concerns or just to check in.
- Seeking medical care immediately if they are showing any signs of heat-related health problems.
- Encouraging them to keep cool and stay hydrated.
- Offering to help by doing shopping or other errands so they can avoid the heat, if it’s safe for you to do so.
- If it’s safe to do so, taking them somewhere cool for the day (e.g., a shopping centre, a cinema, a library) or having them stay the night if they are unable to stay cool in their home.
Managing events or workplaces
If you are organising a large event or sports activity or managing workers in a hot environment:
- Develop and follow a heatwave plan.
- Know the , how to prevent them and how to respond.
- If drinks are confiscated from patrons at the entrances to large events (for security reasons), ensure there is always plenty of free easily accessible water.
- Refer to heat-health information provided by and .
Where to get help
- In an emergency, call triple zero (000)
- Your – if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from a heat-related health problems
- Tel. – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
- Contact the – for non-life-threatening emergencies
- – extreme heat information in community languages.
- , Victoria Tel. (24 hours)