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Tips for avoiding heat stress

Friday 4 January 2013

With a week of temperatures above 40 degrees behind us and another one ahead, the Department of Health is reminding Centralians of the risks associated with heat stress.

Director of Emergency Medicine at the Alice Springs Hospital, Dr Stephen Gourley points out that some people are more vulnerable in hot conditions.

"The elderly, young children and babies are more prone to heat stress than most as their bodies can't always regulate temperature changes efficiently," he said.

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

Anyone experiencing severe symptoms, such as a high body temperature; nausea; dry, red, hot skin; and a rapid heart rate should 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.
  • 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.

Media Contact: Sharon Hutton 89 515 123 or 0401 114 113