More people have died during extreme heat than in any natural disaster. In the 2009 Victorian heatwave, 374 people died and almost 80 percent of these were over 65 years of age.
This year, we’re expecting a long hot summer and that could mean more deaths and illness from extreme heat.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious conditions occurring when the body’s temperature rises and the internal organs start to shut down. Symptoms of heat exhaustion range from muscle cramps, dizziness and nausea to vomiting and fainting.
Everyone can be affected by extreme heat; however, the risk of heat stress is higher for people over 65 years, particularly if they are on medication.
There are things we can all do to survive the heat, such as drinking plenty of water, seeking out air-conditioned buildings, drawing blinds to keep the heat out and taking cool showers. Talk to your GP if you’re on medication or if your GP limits your daily fluids to find out what your extreme heat health plan should be.
If you know extreme heat is on the way, take a moment to plan ahead or visit What to do in a heatwave.