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Heatwave conditions - Identifying and Managing At-Risk Patients

29 November 2018

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast these hot and humid conditions to continue for the rest of the week and into next week, with temperatures reaching the mid-30’s.  Heat-related illness can be serious and even life-threatening.

Signs include fatigue, faint/dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, confusion, muscle cramps especially in the calves and toes, vertigo, exhaustion or general weakness, rapid/shallow breathing, a rapid, weak pulse and rapid, noisy breathing.

At-risk patients

Some people are at greater risk of developing heat stroke, or suffering serious complications from severe dehydration. These people are more at risk because their body doesn't regulate heat well. At-risk patients include:

•babies and young children

•older people

•pregnant women

•people with mental health conditions

•people with chronic conditions like diabetes, kidney, heart or circulation problems

•people on certain medications

•those with limited mobility.

Prevention is best

Prevention is the best way to manage heat-induced illness. Advise patients that they can reduce their risk by:

•drinking plenty of water, and often - including at work, home and on-the-go

•keeping the air conditioner or fan on

•staying out of the sun and in the shade

•drinking less tea, coffee and alcoholic drinks to avoid dehydration

•staying protected outside. This includes Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide

•limiting physical activity and the time outdoors. If this is unavoidable, schedule outdoor activities forcooler parts of the day (before 10am and after 4pm).

•taking extra care when parking a car. Nobody should be left in a locked car.

Last updated 29 November 2018
Last reviewed 29 November 2018