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Take care in the heat

Friday, 3rd January, 2014

People might think they can handle a heatwave but health authorities say we should take care.

Dr Therese Jones, Population Health Director for the Far West Local Health District, said that while heat-related illness may affect anyone, certain groups were particularly vulnerable.

These include the over 75s, infants and children, people with a chronic medical condition and people who live alone.

“Australians are accustomed to hot weather and generally consider themselves resilient to such conditions,” said Dr Jones.

However, the January 2009 heatwave, which caused many deaths in Victoria and South Australia, was a stark reminder that extreme heat presents a real and potentially life-threatening risk.

Some simple precautions will help people cut the risk of heat-related illness:

* Drink plenty of water, and carry some with you when you’re out and about.

* Avoid alcohol and hot or sugary drinks.

* Stay indoors between 11am and 3pm and reduce physical work.

* Shade windows with an awning, shade-cloth or plants. Shutting curtains will help.

* Keep windows closed during the day. Open them when it cools down at night or the early morning.

* Wear light, loose fitting clothes made from natural fibres like cotton.

* Signs of heat-related illness include confusion, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, weakness, headaches and loss of sweating.

People showing any of these signs should seek urgent medical attention.

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