Health Topics: /HOT WEATHER


 Extremely hot days have the potential to cause adverse health effects.


Who is at risk in hot weather?


All people may feel the effects of extremely hot weather but certain groups are more vulnerable:


   Elderly people (particularly women, those with medical problems, who live alone, are socially isolated or reliant on others)


       Children (especially babies and young children)


       People who work outdoors


       Obese and overweight people


       Hospital inpatient and nursing home residents


       People with medical problems/chronic disease


Protecting yourself and your family in hot weather


       Plan your day to avoid going out during the hottest part of the day


       Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Don't wait until you get thirsty. If going out, take some water with you. Always keep a bottle of water in the car


       Take regular breaks in the shade when outdoors


       Wear light coloured, loose fitting clothing made of natural fibres such as cotton. Place a damp cloth/scarf/handkerchief on the back of the neck - Re-wet as needed


       Park your car in a shady spot or in a covered car park building: never leave children or animals unattended in cars


       Use sunscreen and re-apply regularly. Wear a hat, sunglasses and carry an umbrella to use as a sun shade. Splash or spray some water on arms and feet to cool off


       Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, hot or sugary drinks. Avoid heavy meals, eat salads and fruits instead


       Have cool showers or baths. Take a dip at the beach or swimming pools to cool off. Always ensure you adhere to water safety practices


       Avoid strenuous outdoor activity or exercise. Try and plan it for early morning or in the evening


When planning trips, take account of possible longer travelling times. Keep your home and office first-aid kit and disaster management packs up to date.


Remember that pets and animals are also prone to heat effects – keep them in the shade and provide plenty of water.


Staying cool indoors when it's hot outside


    If the room is cooler than outside, keep windows closed and blinds down. Open the windows once the    temperature outside is cooler


       Use a fan or air-conditioning unit where possible


       Consider using pale curtains or other reflective materials on windows


       Keep curtains closed or drapes drawn in rooms that get a lot of sun


       Try not to use the stove or oven very often


       Move to the coolest room in the house


Older people who live alone may need to be checked on daily to ensure they are well.

How do I help myself or someone who may be suffering from heat-related illness


If you feel weak, anxious, dizzy, have intense thirst and a headache, do the following as soon as possible:


       Move to a cool place


       Drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate


       Rest immediately in a cool place if you have painful muscular spasms and drink oral rehydration    solutions containing electrolytes. Medical attention is required if heat cramps are sustained for more    than one

A heat stroke can occur suddenly and may progress rapidly to unconsciousness. If you suspect someone may be suffering the effects of a heat stroke, refer him/her to the hospital.


While waiting for the ambulance to arrive:


       Move the person to somewhere cooler if possible


       Increase ventilation if you're in a room by opening a window or turning on a fan


       Loosen their clothes, sprinkle with cool water or wrap them in a damp sheet to cool them down



Symptoms and basic management of heat-related conditions


Heat-related condition

Signs and symptoms

Initial management


Mild and Moderate







A feeling of thirst, fatigue and light

Drink water or oral solutions


headedness. Can be associated

containing electrolytes.


with headaches. Constipation may

Rest in a cool area.


occur with dehydration (especially

If symptoms do not improve seek


in the elderly).

medical attention.




If constipated discuss treatment



options with a medical professional.

Heat rash

Small red itchy rash on the face,

Rash usually improves without


neck, upper chest, under breast,




groin and scrotum areas. Infection

Minimise sweating by staying in an


may occur.

air-conditioned environment, taking



frequent showers and wearing light







Keep the affected area dry.



Topical antihistamine and antiseptic



creams may reduce discomfort and



prevent secondary infection.

Heat oedema

Swelling of the lower limbs,

Treatment is not



usually ankles.

Usually subsides




acclimatisation to the heat.

Heat syncope

Brief loss of consciousness or

The person affected should rest in a


dizziness on standing.

cool place and lie down with legs and



hips elevated.




Seek medical attention to rule out



other causes of faints.

Heat cramps

Painful muscular spasms, often in

Immediate rest in a cool place.


the legs, arms or abdomen.

Stretch muscles and massage


Usually occurs at the end of



sustained exercise.

Oral rehydration may be needed



using a solution containing






Medical attention should be sought if



heat cramps are sustained for more



than one hour.

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms of intense thirst,

Move to a cool shaded room or air-


weakness, discomfort, anxiety,

conditioned place.


dizziness, fainting and headaches.

Apply cold wet sheet or cold water



spray and use a fan if available.








Severe and Life-Threatening




Heat stroke

Symptoms of confusion,

Shift patient to the hospital


disorientation, convulsions and





Worsening of pre-

This is especially of concern in

Seek medical attention if you have a

existing illness

people with heart disease,

chronic condition and develop new


strokes, and respiratory disease.



Symptoms can vary from mild to

If any severe symptoms, refer to the hospital


severe, depending on the disease.



This can include but is not limited



to chest pains, shortness of



breath, dizziness or confusion.






Table adapted from WHO Heat Health Action Plans Guidance, 2008

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