With summer temperatures and lots of outdoor activities during the New Year period, we are being reminded to take some simple precautions to keep cool, and avoid potentially life-threatening heat-related illnesses.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley said the effects of heat-related conditions can range from mild ailments, such as a rash or cramps, to very serious conditions such as heat stroke.

“Heat stroke occurs when you become dehydrated and your body temperature rises above 40 degrees Celsius or higher. This is a medical emergency and if not treated properly can lead to death,” Minister Ley said.

“Hot weather is particularly dangerous for young children and babies because they are easily affected by the heat. Older people are also at risk as they may not be aware that their body is overheating.

“So it’s important that we look after ourselves, and be aware of those around us who are more vulnerable to heat stress, such as older people, young children and those who work outdoors.”

To look after yourself during hot weather, use a combination of the following:

  • Keep your fluids up by drinking plenty of water.
  • Stay indoors, and use fans or air-conditioning where possible, or consider going to cooler public places like shopping centres, cinemas or libraries.
  • Avoid unnecessary physical activity in the hotter times of the day.
  • When outside, wear SPF30+ sun-screen or higher, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and loose comfortable clothing with long sleeves.
  • Never leave children or the elderly in an unattended car.

Minister Ley also said it was important to have a plan for when hot weather was expected.

“Keep an eye on the weather forecast, plan indoor activities on those hot days, and know who to call if you need help.  Also think about people you may know who may be at risk during the hot weather and keep regular contact with them.”