04 February 2016

Prepare for hot days ahead

With hot temperatures expected across Perth in the coming days, Western Australians are being encouraged to take the necessary precautions to avoid heat stress.

WA Health Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Andrew Robertson said some people were particularly vulnerable in hot temperatures.

"The elderly, young children and babies are more prone to heat stress than most people," Dr Robertson said.

"The body normally sweats to cool itself, but for the elderly and the very young, the body cannot always regulate temperature changes efficiently which leads to heat stress." 

The effects of heat-related illnesses can range from mild symptoms such as a rash or cramps, to very serious conditions such as heat stroke.

Effects can also build up over a number of days, as people become exhausted from the heat, which could exacerbate heart disease and other chronic problems. 

Dr Robertson said people who worked outside or who were not used to the heat, such as travellers from overseas, might also be at a higher risk.

"It is particularly important that people are aware of the risks of heat stress as they head outdoors to enjoy activities," Dr Robertson said.

"People should ensure they have ample supplies of non-alcoholic cool drinks and good sun protection." 

The Department of Health is advising Western Australians who experience severe symptoms, such as a high body temperature; nausea; dry, red, hot skin; and a rapid heart rate to seek urgent medical advice. 

People should take the following precautions to help prevent heat-related illness:

  • check on older, sick and frail people who may need help coping with the heat
  • never leave anyone in a closed car 
  • drink plenty of water and fluids (note: If your doctor normally limits your fluids or you are on fluid tablets, you may need to check how much to drink while the weather is hot) 
  • limit or avoid alcohol 
  • stay indoors, if possible in air-conditioning 
  • take a cool shower or bath 
  • wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing 
  • apply sunscreen at regular intervals while outdoors 
  • reduce physical activity 
  • avoid outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day
  • if possible, stay in shaded areas when outdoors
  • don't rely on fans unless there is adequate ventilation 
  • know the signs of heat stress (muscle cramps, pallor, dizziness, headache, nausea increased heart rate, fainting, excessive sweating or no sweating with high temperature and hot, dry skin) and seek medical attention if necessary. 

For more information visit Healthy WA (external site)

ENDS

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