SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Drink water to stay adequately hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you always.
- Hot cars kill. Never leave kids, older people or pets in cars. The temperature inside a parked car can double within minutes.
- Keep cool. Seek out air-conditioned buildings, draw your curtains, use a fan, take cool showers and dress in light and loose clothing made from natural fabrics.
- Plan ahead. Schedule activities in the coolest part of the day and avoid exercising and being outdoors in the heat.
- If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen, and take a bottle of water with you.
- Check in on others. Look after those most at risk in the heat – your neighbour living alone, the elderly, the young, people with a medical condition and don’t forget your pets.
On this page
Impact of extreme heat
During extreme heat it is easy to become dehydrated or for your body to overheat. If this happens, you may develop heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke. Heatstroke is a medical emergency which can result in permanent damage to your vital organs, or even death, if not treated immediately. Extreme heat can also make existing medical conditions worse.
Watch this video to learn how extreme heat can impact the body.
People at risk from extreme heat
Hot weather can affect anyone, including the young and healthy. However, some people are more at risk than others.
People most at risk:
- are aged over 65 years, especially those living alone
- have a medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
- are taking certain medications that may affect the way the body reacts to heat as a side effect. This includes but is not limited to, medication that is used to treat allergies, blood pressure, heart conditions, seizure disorders and mental health conditions. Speak to your doctor to discuss this.
- harmful alcohol or drug use
- living with a cognitive impairment that reduces their ability to communicate their discomfort and needs
- limited mobility
- pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
- babies and young children
- are overweight or obese
- work or exercise outdoors
- have recently arrived from cooler climates.
Coping with the heat
During extreme heat, whether it’s one hot day or a heatwave, remember:
- Drink water, to stay adequately hydrated (if your doctor normally limits your fluids, check with your doctor how much to drink during hot weather)
- Keep yourself cool by using damp towels containing ice, putting your feet in cool water and taking cool (not cold) showers
- If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting an air-conditioned shopping centre or public library
- Block out the sun at home during the day by closing curtains and blinds
- Open the windows when there is a cool breeze, the outside temperature is cooler than inside, and if it is safe to do so
- Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. If you do have to go outside, wear a hat and sunscreen, and seek shade
- Cancel or postpone outings. If you absolutely must go out, stay in the shade and take plenty of water with you
- Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres like cotton and linen
- Eat smaller meals more often and cold meals such as salads
- Make sure food that needs refrigeration is properly stored
- Allow yourself plenty of time to rest and avoid heavy activity like sport, renovating and gardening
- Watch, read or listen to news reports to find out more information during extreme heat and when heatwaves are forecast.
Practical hot weather resources
Everyone can be affected by hot weather and it is important that you take care whenever the temperatures start to rise. A heatwave over a period of days, or even a single day of extreme heat, may cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
It's important to stay aware of the weather during summer, especially when there are risks of heatwaves or days of high UV. For more information on weather conditions, see:
- Victorian seven-day forecast – Bureau of Meteorology
- Heatwave forecast – Bureau of Meteorology
- UV alert – Cancer Council.
You can also register to get Heat Health Warnings from the Department of Health.
When out enjoying the summer, always remember hot weather can spoil food quickly. Make sure you follow safe food practices to avoid illness.
You can get first aid information and resources from St John Ambulance.
Older people and hot weather
The heat may affect older people more than others. People aged 65 years and over may be at increased risk of heat-related illnesses.
Factors that can increase a person's risk include living alone, chronic medical problems and certain medications.
Children and hot weather
Babies and young children should be watched carefully during hot weather as their body temperature rises much faster than adults. They need to drink regularly, wear light clothing and be kept cool.
Never leave babies or young children in cars. The temperature inside parked cars can double within minutes.
Active people and hot weather
Heat and sport or physical activity (exercise) can be a dangerous combination.
You can prevent heat-related illness during sport by drinking plenty of fluids, taking frequent rest breaks and avoiding exercise during the hottest part of the day.
How you can help others
In extreme heat, check on and help other people who may be at a higher risk of heat-related illness:
- Keep in touch with sick or frail friends and family, especially if they are living alone.
- Call them at least once on any extreme heat day.
- Encourage them to drink water.
- Offer to help family, friends and neighbours who are aged over 65 or have an illness by doing shopping or other errands so they can avoid the heat. Consider taking them somewhere cool for the day (e.g., a shopping centre, a cinema, a library) or have them stay the night if they are unable to stay cool in their home.
- If you observe symptoms of heat-related illness, seek medical help.
Prepare for extreme heat
You can prepare for extreme heat:
- Stock up on food, water and medicines so you don’t have to go out in the heat. Make sure they can be stored in the appropriate temperature.
- Visit 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.
- Look at the things you can do to make your home cooler such as installing window coverings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun, and planting trees to provide shade around the house.
Prepare for a power failure
Power failures can happen during times of extremely hot weather. Some things you can do to prepare for a power failure are:
- Ensure you have a torch, fully charged mobile phone and portable charger, a battery-operated radio and some spare batteries.
- Stock up on food items that do not require refrigeration or cooking such as tinned fruit and vegetables, tinned meats or fish, bread and fruit.
- Have plenty of drinking water available.
- Stock up on medications and other essential items.
- Consider a battery-operated or hand-held fan to assist with cooling.
Where to get help
- In an emergency, call triple zero (000)
- Your GP (doctor) – if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from a heat-related illness
- NURSE-ON-CALL Tel. 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
- Health Translations Directory – survive the heat information in community languages.
- Maternal and Child Health Line, Victoria Tel. 132 229 (24 hours)
- Extreme heat and heatwaves, 2015, Department of Health & Human Services, Victorian Government.
- Extreme heat prevention guide, 2012, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Hot weather, Sports Medicine Australia.
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