Heat kills more Australians than any natural disaster. Those most at risk are older people, young children and people with a medical condition and Heatstroke is fatal in up to 80% of cases. Heat-related illness can be prevented – keep cool, avoid vigorous physical activity in hot weather, and drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic fluids. Never leave children or pets unattended in a parked car and seek medical assistance if a person shows any signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Heat stress occurs when our body is unable to cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature. Normally, the body cools itself by sweating, but sometimes sweating isn’t enough and the body temperature keeps rising.
Heat-related illness can range from mild conditions such as a rash or cramps to very serious conditions such as heatstroke, which can kill.
Overexertion in hot weather, sun or bushfire exposure, and exercising or working in hot, poorly ventilated or confined areas can increase your risk of heat stress. Heat can also make an existing medical condition worse, for example heart disease.
People most at risk of heat-related illness
Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, but those most at risk are:
- People over 65 years, particularly those living alone or without air conditioning
- Babies and young children
- Pregnant and nursing mothers
- People who are physically unwell, especially with heart disease, high blood pressure or lung disease
- People on medications for mental illness.
- Elderly people are more prone to heat stress than younger people because their body may not adjust well to sudden or prolonged temperature change. They are also more likely to have a chronic medical condition and be taking medication that may interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
Source: Better Health Channel