What to do in a heatwave

Heatwaves are known to increase the incidence of illness and death, particularly among vulnerable population groups. Vulnerable population groups include:

  • Older people (65 years and older)
  • Children under five years old
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers
  • People with a pre-existing medical condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or mental illness
  • People with a condition that impairs the body's ability to regulate its own temperature – for example, multiple sclerosis
  • Those living alone with little social contact
  • People taking certain medications, such as those for depression or insomnia
  • People with a disability.

If you are concerned that someone may be suffering heat-related illness, encourage them to see their doctor.

Where to get help

  • In an emergency, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance
  • Your doctor
  • Bellarine Community Health Inc., Nelson Road, Point Lonsdale, telephone 03 5258 0888
  • Nurse-on-Call, telephone 1300 606 024.

What you can do to prevent heat-related illness

Before the hot weather:

  • See your doctor and make sure your medical condition is as well controlled as possible.
  • Undertake regular moderate exercise in warmer weather before severe hot weather begins so that the body can adapt to and cope better with hot weather.

Once the weather is hot:

  • Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids. (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.)
  • Avoid alcohol because of its dehydrating effects.
  • Stay indoors, if possible with air-conditioning, or in the shade.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Reduce physical activity.
  • Check on older, sick and frail people who may need help coping with the heat.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed parked car.
  • Don't rely on fans to cool people unless they are well hydrated and there is adequate ventilation.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of excessive heat exposure and know how to respond.

If you must be out in the heat:

  • Limit outdoor activity to morning or evening hours.
  • Protect yourself from the sun and Slip, Slop, Slap when outside by using sunscreen, wearing a hat and covering exposed skin.
  • Rest regularly in the shade and drink fluids frequently.
  • What to do for heat cramps:
  • Stop activity and sit quietly in a cool place.
  • Increase fluid intake.
  • Rest for a few hours before returning to activity.
  • Seek medical help if cramps persist.

What to do for heat exhaustion:

  • Get the person to a cool area and lie them down.
  • Remove outer clothing.
  • Wet skin with cool water or wet cloths.
  • Seek medical advice.

What to do for heat stroke:

  • Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.
  • Get the person to a cool, shady area and lie them down.
  • Remove clothing and wet skin with water, fanning continuously.
  • Position an unconscious person on their side and clear their airway.

To read Council’s Heatwave Plan click here