Heat kills more Australians than any natural disaster

Sun 3

Published November 21 2019

More people have died during extreme heat than in any natural disaster. In the 2009 Victorian heatwave 374 people died and almost eighty percent of these were over 65 years of age. This year, we’re expecting a hot summer, and that could mean more deaths and illness from extreme heat.

During extreme heat it is easy to become dehydrated or for your body to overheat. If this happens, you may develop heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke. Heatstroke is a medical emergency which can result in permanent damage to your vital organs, or even death, if not treated immediately.

With heatwaves becoming a regular feature of the Victorian summer, it’s important to plan ahead and consider how you can look after yourself and others when the extreme heat hits.

There are simple things you can do to stay safe in the heat:

  • Drink plenty of water - Take a bottle with you always.
  • Hot cars kill - never leave kids, adults or pets in hot cars. The temperature inside a parked car can double within minutes.
  • Keep cool - seek out air-conditioned buildings, draw your blinds, use a fan, take cool showers and dress in light and loose clothing made from natural fabrics.
  • Plan ahead - schedule activities in the coolest part of the day and avoid exercising in the heat. If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you.
  • Help others - look after those most at risk in the heat – your neighbour living alone, the elderly, the young, people with a medical condition and don’t forget your pets.

If you or anyone you know feels unwell on a hot day call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24, or call 000 in an emergency.

For more information visit betterhealth.vic.gov.au/heat

By Better Health Channel, Victorian State Government.