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Healthy in the heat

Everyone is at risk of heat-related illness during hot weather and heatwaves. Some groups of people – such as babies and young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people who have chronic health conditions – are more at risk than others.

Follow these simple steps to stay healthy in the heat:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stay cool with a fan or air-conditioner
  • Avoid going out in the hottest part of the day
  • Keep curtains, blinds and windows closed during the day to keep your home cool
  • Cool off with a shower or bath
  • Look out for family, friends and the elderly
  • Check the weather forecast so you know when hot weather is coming
  • If you go outside during the day, wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved and light-coloured clothing, a hat, sunglasses and SPF30+ sunscreen.

Find more information on how to stay healthy in the heat under the topics below.

A heatwave is when there are three or more days of unusually high maximum and minimum temperatures.

The State Emergency Service (SES) is the control agency for severe weather in South Australia.

Throughout Summer, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) predicts average daily temperatures and overnight minimum temperatures and then works with the SES to issue heatwave warnings.

South Australia can experience many heatwaves, so it is important to know:

  • what the effects of heatwaves are
  • who is at risk
  • how you can prepare for it and cope.

What is the different between 'heatwaves' and 'hot weather'?

A heatwave is more than just ‘hotter than usual’ weather.

When temperatures are hotter than 35°C, your body may not be able to cool you down enough for you to stay healthy, especially if you are an older person or if you are taking certain medicines.

During a heatwave, you are more likely to develop a heat-related illness and become unwell much faster than you would when in warm or hot weather.

Information

  • Visit www.ses.sa.gov.au
  • Check radio, television and online news regularly for information and advice.

Emergency telephone numbers

In a medical emergency, always call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

For emergency assistance due to fallen trees, blackouts and structural damage to buildings cause by severe winds and storms, contact the SES on 132 500.

Helpful telephone numbers

ABC Emergency – broadcast media

  • ABC Radio
    Broadcasts throughout metropolitan and regional South Australia. Find the ABC Radio frequency in your area, or an area you will be visiting during extreme heat.
  • ABC Emergency website
  • ABC Emergency social media: Facebook and Twitter

Helpful websites

Health information

  • Healthdirect Australia ( healthdirect provides free, trusted health information and advice, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Weather information

Emergency information

Culturally And Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities

Women’s And Children’s Health Network

Helpful social media

Helpful apps for mobile devices

The below useful apps are available via the iTunes app store or Google Play for Android:

If you are pregnant, it is important for your health and the health of your baby that you follow the tips in this guide when the weather is hot.

During pregnancy, most women have higher body temperatures, making them more sensitive to heat in hot weather.

For this reason, pregnant women need to take extra steps to make sure they and their unborn babies do not overheat:

  • If you feel unwell because of the heat, it is important that you stop what you are doing and lie down in a cool, air-conditioned room.
  • If your symptoms continue, speak with your General Practitioner, obstetrician, midwife or the maternity unit where you plan to give birth for specific medical advice.
  • Pace yourself. Ask for help if you are too hot or tired to cook, clean, or run errands. Put your feet up whenever you can. Growing a baby is hard work and you need plenty of rest during the day.
  • Lying and sleeping on your left side will mean that more blood and nutrients will reach the placenta and your baby.

In a medical emergency, always call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

For more information:

As we age, we can have a higher risk of heat-related illness, especially if we live alone, have medical conditions, or if we take certain medicines.

Physical changes happen as we get older, and we may be less likely to notice we are becoming overheated or dehydrated, and some medications can make this worse. Older people are also less able to cool their body by sweating.

Some medicines can make you more prone to sunburn and heat stress, so it is important to watch for signs of being affected by hot weather.

If you have a chronic medical condition and take regular medication, talk with your General Practitioner about how to take care of your health during hot weather.

Always speak with your doctor or pharmacist for more advice about the medicines you are taking.

If you are an older person or if you care for someone who is elderly, the following tips may help you:

  • Arrange for a friend or relative to visit you once or twice a day to check how you are and that you have everything you need to stay healthy in the heat.
  • Take simple steps to keep cool:
  • Use air-conditioners and fans set to cool
  • Put a wet cloth around your neck or put your feet in a bowl of cool water
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you do not feel thirsty, and take a bottle of water wherever you go so you do not become dehydrated.
  • Swap large meals for smaller ones. Make cool meals, like salads, and avoid using ovens or stoves in hot weather – they can make your home much hotter.
  • A trip to an air-conditioned public space, like the local library, cinema or shopping centre, may help you keep cool and give you some relief from hot weather. But remember, avoid going outside in the hottest part of the day.
  • Register with the free Red Cross Telecross REDi (SA) service on 1800 188 071. Trained Red Cross volunteers call older people up to three times a day to make sure they are well and coping in hot weather.

For more information:


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