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Staying healthy in the heat

Check out the latest tips and advice for hot days ahead.

Sharon is using a damp towel and a fan to keep cool

As the state heats up this summer, it’s important to look after yourself and those around you. Check out the latest tips and advice for hot days ahead.

Extreme heat can affect anyone, but older and younger people and those with medical conditions are at greater risk. Heat can cause illnesses such as heat cramps and heat exhaustion which can lead to the life-threatening condition, heatstroke, which is fatal in up to 80% of cases.

Preparing for extreme heat can make hot days safer and more manageable. Here are some handy tips from the Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

Simple tips to survive the heat

Plan ahead

  • Keep up to date with weather forecasts – watch the news daily, check the BOM forecast onlineExternal Link and read the current heat health alert on health.vicExternal Link .
  • Cancel non-essential outings and plan essential activities for the coolest part of the day.
  • Stock up on food, water and medicines so you don’t have to go out in the heat.
  • Visit your doctor to check if changes are needed to your medicines during extreme heat.
  • Store medicines safely at the recommended temperature.
  • Check that your fan or air-conditioner works well. Have your air-conditioner serviced if necessary.
  • Prepare for power failures - ensure you have a torch, battery-operated radio, fully charged mobile phone or battery back-up, food items that don’t require refrigeration, medications, plenty of drinking water and other essential items.
  • Look at the things you can do to make your home cooler such as installing window coverings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun.

Stay cool at home

  • Spend time in cool or air-conditioned buildings like shopping centres, libraries, cinemas or community centres. Keep COVIDSafe behaviours in mind and check out the latest advice on Link .
  • Keep yourself cool by using wet towels, putting your feet in cool water and taking cool (not cold) showers.
  • Block out the sun at home during the day by closing curtains and blinds.
  • Open the windows when there is a cool breeze.
  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you.
  • Dress yourself and those in your care lightly. Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres like cotton and linen.
  • Eat smaller meals more often and cold meals such as salads. Make sure food that needs refrigeration is properly stored.
  • Avoid intense activity like exercise, renovating and gardening.
  • Watch or listen to news reports for more information.
  • Don’t forget your pets – a cool bath, wet towel to lie on, a place next to a fan and plenty of fresh water work just as well for animals.

Stay hydrated

  • Keep a full drink bottle with you and take small sips of water frequently.
  • If your doctor normally limits your fluids, check how much you should drink during hot weather.

Check in on others

  • Look after those most at risk in the heat – your neighbour living alone, older people, young children, people with a medical condition and don’t forget your pets.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family who may need help on an extreme heat day.
  • Encourage friends and family to drink plenty of water.
  • If you can, offer to help family, friends and neighbours who are older or may have an illness by doing shopping or other errands so they can avoid the heat.
  • If your family and friends are unable to stay cool in their home, take them somewhere cool for the day or have them stay the night if you can.
  • If you observe symptoms of heat-related illness, seek medical help.

Never leave anyone in a car

  • Never leave kids, adults or pets in cars – the temperature can double in minutes.

A couple using a colourful umbrella to keep the sun off them while they are walking across the square outside.

Reviewed 21 March 2023