TDHS Heat Stress

Do you know how to avoid heat stress?

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 isnโ€™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.

What is a heatwave?

  • A heatwave is a period of excessively hot weather.

 

Why are heatwaves a problem?

  • Heatwaves can cause people to become ill, and sometimes die.
  • Heatwaves are most dangerous if they occur early in the summer season, if they last for several days, and if they include hot nights.
  • Heatwaves can cause fatigue, heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can lead to death.
  • Heatwaves also cause death by causing a worsening of existing health problems, especially heart or lung disorders.

 

Who is most at risk?

Those residents most at risk are:

  • aged 65 years or older
  • overweight or obese
  • people with a chronic disease, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease
  • people unable to care for themselves
  • people with a health condition that impairs sweating, such as scleroderma, extensive scarring from burns
  • people with limited mobility or confined to bed
  • people with dementia or psychiatric illness
  • people taking medications that interfere with the bodyโ€™s ability to regulate temperature.

 

What you can do to assist your family member during excessively hot weather.

Provide an adequate supply of light coloured, loose-fitting cotton clothing

This could include:

  • For ladies: sleeveless summer dress and summer night wear.
  • For men: short-sleeved shirt, shorts, cotton summer socks and summer pyjamas.

 

Encourage and assist with sipping cool water or other drinks as recommended by care staff

  • Offer assistance
  • Ensure drinks are within reach
  • Fill up water jugs.

 

Look for any signs of distress and if present report this to care staff immediately

  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Weakness, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting
  • Fatigue, headache, confusion.

 

Take care of yourself!

  • Stay out of the sun
  • Avoid travelling in the hottest part of the day
  • Spend at least three hours in an air conditioned space
  • Have plenty to drink
  • Avoid strenuous activity.

 

For more information visit the Victorian Government’s Heatwave Resources Page.

Survive the heat poster

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