Preparing for a Heatwave

Heatwaves can be serious and everyone is at risk of heat-related illness.

Preparing for a Heatwave

Anyone can be affected by a heatwave, but some people are more sensitive to the impacts of heat. For example, if you are an older person or if you are taking certain medicines, your body may not be able to cool you down enough in the hot weather.

During extreme heat events there are simple steps you can take to stay safe:

  • Drink water: Always take a bottle with you. 
  • Hot cars kill: Never leave kids, adults or pets in cars. The temperature inside a parked car can double within minutes.
  • Keep cool: Seek out air-conditioned buildings, use a fan, take cool showers, and dress in light, loose clothing made from natural fabrics.
  • Plan ahead: Schedule activities in the coolest part of the day and avoid exercising in the heat. If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you.
  • Know the symptoms of heat related illness and visit your GP or a Walk-in Centre if you or someone around you is unwell.
  • Help others: Look after those most at risk in the heat - your friends and family or your neighbour.

What to do if you’re affected by heat

Heat stress is the body's response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. Signs and symptoms of heat stress include:

  • Nausea;
  • Feeling faint;
  • Dizziness;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Headache; and
  • Vomiting.

If you or someone around you is experiencing heat stress:

  • Try to get the person to a cooler environment;
  • Lay the person down; 
  • Cool them by applying cool, wet towels around the neck and underarms;
  • If conscious, give cool fluids (preferably water) to drink; and
  • Visit your GP or walk-in clinic.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion, altered mental state, or slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature

Heat stroke can be fatal if not addressed. If you or someone around you is experiencing signs of heat stroke, call Triple-Zero (000) for an ambulance.

For more tips on staying safe during heatwaves and summer weather visit the ACT Health website.