Disaster managementHeatwave

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What is the hazard?

HeatwaveProlonged periods of excessive heat (usually over 36°), known as heatwave, can pose a threat to people and animals.

It can also have an impact on infrastructure such as power supply, public transport and other services.

What should I do to prepare for extreme heat?

  • Identify any particularly at risk members of your family such as babies and young children, elderly people, pregnant women, people on certain medications or with medical conditions
  • Consider installing alternatives such as awnings, shade cloth, internal blinds or curtains to help cool your home
  • Ensure any air conditioners are serviced regularly
  • Listen to weather forecasts for potential heatwaves
  • Prepare for a power failure:
    • Plan for what you would do if a heatwave caused failure of electricity supply or disrupted public transport
    • If a power failure does occur, ensure you have a torch, fully-charged telephone or mobile phone, battery operated radio and spare batteries

What should I do if the weather is extremely hot?

Drink water regularly and eat sensibly

  • DRINK 2 to 3 litres of water a day at regular intervals (even if you do not feel thirsty)
    Sports drinks do not replace water. If your fluid intake is limited on medical advice then check with your doctor on how much you should drink during hot weather
  • AVOID alcoholic drinks, carbonated soft drinks, tea and coffee as they worsen dehydration
  • Eat as you normally would but try to eat COLD FOODS, particularly salads and fruit which contain water
  • AVOID heavy protein foods (eg. meat, dairy products) which raise body heat and increase fluid loss

Keep out of the heat

  • Plan your day to keep activity to a minimum during the hottest part of the day
  • If you must go out then wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, porous clothes, a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen and regularly rest in the shade and drink fluids
  • AVOID going out in the hottest part of the day (11.00am - 3.00pm), where possible
  • AVOID strenuous activities and gardening
  • Do NOT leave children, adults or animals in parked cars

Stay cool

  • Wear appropriate clothing to suit the hot weather
  • Stay inside, in the coolest rooms in your home, as much as possible
  • Block out the sun during the day by closing curtains and blinds and keep windows closed while the room is cooler than it is outside
  • Open up windows and doors when there is a cool breeze, when the temperature inside rises and at night for ventilation
  • Use fans and air-conditioners at home to keep cool; or spend time in an air-conditioned library, community centre, shopping centre or cinema
  • Take frequent cool showers or baths and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly your face and the back of your neck

Monitor animals and pets for heat stress

Pets and livestock can be affected by heat related illness and anyone in charge of an animal, livestock or a pet has a duty of care to provide food, water and appropriate shelter for the animal.

What should I do if I think someone is suffering from a heat related illness?

  • Call 000 for life threatening emergencies
  • Seek MEDICAL ADVICE from your usual doctor, hospital or health clinic
  • Sit or lay the person in a cool spot in the shade or under cover
  • Remove as much of the patient’s clothing as possible or loosen tight clothing
  • Cover the person with a sheet which has been wet with tap water
    (NOT iced water)
  • Use fans or air conditioning to aid the cooling down process
  • Give the patient water to drink, if they can swallow
  • If the patient becomes unconscious then position them on their side and dial 000

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