Four steps to survive a heat wave

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A Charles Sturt University (CSU) expert has urged people to stay hydrated, keep cool, take care of others, and to make a plan for the extreme heat forecast to last the rest of the week.

Mr Philip Walker, a lecturer in the paramedic program at the CSU School of Biomedical Sciences in Bathurst, said extreme weather conditions can very quickly lead to life-threatening situations if people don’t take some simple steps to avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or dehydration.

“These conditions can make people very unwell very quickly,” he said.

“People need to be vigilant for the early signs of these conditions, such as headache, weakness, vomiting, and dizziness.”

Mr Walker said signs of heat stroke could include high body temperature, red or dry skin, a dry and swollen tongue, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, confusion and nausea.

“In the Bachelor of Clinical Practice (Paramedic), students are educated about the dangers of heat exposure to themselves and the public, and about the four steps to survive a heat wave.”

Four steps to cope with a heat wave.

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Stay hydrated:

  • Drink regular, small amounts of water during the daytime, starting in the early morning.
  • Drink more water if you are going outside or are undertaking strenuous activity.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

Keep Cool:

  • Close windows, curtains, blinds and shutters early in the day before the weather gets hot especially on windows facing west.
  • Check that the fridge, freezer, fan and air-conditioner work properly. Make sure that you have the air conditioner set to cooling mode. If you don’t have air conditioning, set up some fans.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing and sun block, visit places with air conditioning (shopping centres / cinema) or go for a swim (remember swim safety).

Take care of others:

  • Make contact with people in your community who are at risk of heat-related illness (elderly, people with chronic illness or physical disabilities).
  • Keep children protected from heat (sun block, air conditioning, sun hats etc).
  • Check that people know who to call if they need help.

Make a plan:

  • Re-schedule any non-necessary activity, particularly activities in the hottest parts of the day.
  • Avoid long periods of exposure to the sun and heat.
  • Store (most) prescription medications below 25°C (discuss with a pharmacist if unsure about correct storage temperatures).
  • Consider the risk of bushfires in your area and have a bush fire plan.
  • Tell others about your plan.

If you find someone suffering from heat stroke, seek medical attention or call 000.

(Source: CSU)

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Date Created: January 19, 2014