Heat Health Alerts


What is a Heat Health Alert?

A Heat Health Alert is issued by Department of Health and Human Services when there is a prolonged period of excessive heat forecasted in the State of Victoria which is likely to have an impact on human health.

These extreme heat events can also affect community infrastructure such as power supply, public transport and other services.

Extreme heat can make existing medical conditions worse and cause a heat – related illness, which may be fatal.  The most important things to remember are:

  • Keep cool
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stay out of the sun
  • Look after yourself and others

See the Department of Health and Human Services website for more information on Heat Health Alerts and the Better Health Channel for information on how to cope and stay safe in extreme heat.

Who is most at risk?

People most at risk during extreme heat events are:

  • People aged over 65 years, especially those living alone
  • People who have a medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
  • People taking medications that may affect the way the body reacts to heat
  • People with problematic alcohol or other drug use
  • People with a disability who may not be able to identify or communicate their discomfort or thirst
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • Pregnant women and breast feeding mothers
  • Babies and young children
  • People who work or are physically active outdoors

Preparing for hot weather

  • Check that your fan or air-conditioner works well
  • Stock up on food, water and medication to avoid having to go out in the heat
  • Leading up to the summer months prepare your home by installing awnings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun


Preparing for power failure

It is very common to lose power during extreme heat events.

You can be prepared by:

  • Thinking about how you would cope without power
  • Ensure you have a torch, a fully charged mobile phone or a telephone that will work without electricity, a battery operated radio and sufficient batteries
  • Ensure you have frozen blocks / water bottles

For further information on how to stay safe during a power outage:

www.energyandresources.vic.gov.au/energy/safety-and-emergencies/power-outages


Coping with the heat

  • Look after yourself and keep in touch with sick or frail family, friends and neighbours
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty
  • Keep yourself cool by using wet towels, putting your feet in cool water and taking cool (not cold) showers
  • Spend as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings
  • Block out the sun at home during the day by closing curtains and blinds
  • Don’t leave children or animals in parked vehicles
  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day
  • If you must go out, wear light coloured, loose fitting clothing and a hat
  • Eat smaller meals more often and cold meals such as salads. Make sure you store refrigerated food properly and discard if it has been out of adequate temperature control for more than 4 hours.
  • Avoid strenuous activity such as sport, home improvements and gardening
  • Watch or listen to news reports that provide more information during a heatwave

It is likely that extreme heat events will occur in conjunction with severe, extreme and Code Red Fire Danger days.  Always remain up to date with Fire Warnings for your local area and act in accordance with your Fire Ready Plan.


Heat related illness

Extreme heat may cause illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  It may also worsen pre-existing conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.


Heat Cramps

  • Muscle pains
  • Spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs


Heat Exhaustion

  • Pale complexion and sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle cramps and weakness
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fainting


Heat Stroke (A Life Threatening Emergency – Call 000)

  • Similar symptoms to heat exhaustion
  • Dry skin with no sweating
  • Mental condition worsens and causes confusion
  • Seizure
  • Stroke-like symptoms or collapsing
  • Unconsciousness


Medical Contact Information

For 24 hour health advice contact NURSE ON CALL 1300 60 60 24

For life threatening emergencies 000