Staying healthy in the heat
Prolonged hot weather can affect anybody. It may make existing medical conditions worse and can cause heat-related illness. In some cases heat effects may be fatal. It may also affect community infrastructure such as power supply and other support services. So it is important to know how to stay healthy in hot weather.
Who is at risk?
All Queenslanders are at risk during periods of hot or prolonged high temperatures, however some people are at a higher risk of harm. This includes:
- the elderly-especially those who live alone
- babies and very young children
- pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
- people who suffer from a pre-existing medical condition-such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
- people who take certain medications – such as allergy medicines (antihistamines), blood pressure and heart medications (beta-blockers), fluid tablets (diuretics) and anti-depressant or anti-psychotic medications. If you take medication, consult with your doctor for more information
- people with an alcohol or drug problem
- people with mobility problems or disability, who may not be able to identify or communicate their discomfort or thirst
- people who are physically active-such as manual workers and people who play sport.
Preparing for a heat wave
- Check air-conditioning at your home has been serviced and is working effectively.
- Ensure you have an enough food, water, medicines and toiletries to avoid going out in the heat.
- Store foods and medicines at a safe temperature. Read our food safety information to find out more.
- Consider your options if the heat wave causes a loss of electricity or disrupts public transport.
- Ensure you have a torch, fully charged mobile phone or a telephone that will work without electricity, a battery operated radio and sufficient batteries.
- Find ways to make your home cooler-such as installing awnings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun. Dark metal shutters and dark curtains may absorb heat and make the room warmer and should be avoided. The use of pale curtains or reflective materials is better.
Coping during prolonged heat
- Keep hydrated by drinking water regularly during the day. This generally means drinking two to three litres of water a day, depending on heat, humidity and your physical activity.
- If your doctor normally restricts your fluid intake, check how much to drink during hot weather. Drinking too much water can also be dangerous, so monitor the colour of your urine. It is recommended that your water consumption should ensure that your urine is light yellow.
- Avoid drinking drinks with high levels of sugar, caffeine and alcohol and very cold drinks.
- Eat smaller cool meals, such as salads. Do not take additional salt tablets unless prescribed by a doctor.
- Keep yourself cool. Use wet towels or scarves, put your feet in cool water or take cool (not cold) showers. Stay indoors in cool or air-conditioned facilities-either at home or at local shopping centres, libraries and cinemas.
- Close curtains and blinds, and open windows (if there is a cool breeze blowing) to reduce heat entering your home.
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activities. If you can’t avoid outdoor activities don’t go out in the hottest part of the day, stay in the shade, drink plenty of water and wear a hat and light coloured, loose fitting clothing. Ensure infants and children do too.
- Do not leave children, adults or animals in parked vehicles, even for a short period of time.
- Keep in touch with sick or frail friends, neighbours and relatives to ensure that they are coping with the heat wave conditions.
- Watch or listen to news reports for information about the heat event or heat wave.
For more information or support during heat event or a heatwave:
- call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) at any time
- contact your doctor, hospital or health clinic
In an emergency, call triple 000.