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Staying safe during hot weather this summer

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Summertime has well and truly arrived in Victoria, and while this news is often well-received, it also brings with it some danger. During extreme heat it is easy to become dehydrated or for your body to overheat. This can in turn lead to health emergencies including heatstroke, which can result in serious health issues or even death.

According to the Department of Health, the best way to avoid such outcomes—which can affect people of all ages—is to know how to prepare for extreme heat in advance, and what to do on very hot days to ensure your safety and that of your family, friends and neighbours.

During extreme hot weather, it’s important to drink plenty of water, keep yourself cool (cold showers are a great option) and stay out of the sun. If you do not have air-conditioning, consider spending the hottest part of the day at an air-conditioned facility such as shopping centres, libraries or cinemas (be sure to practice COVID-safe behaviours while in public places).

On hot days, stay tuned into regular news reports and fire warnings, block out the sun by closing blinds or curtains, and avoid strenuous physical activities.

While anyone can suffer adverse outcomes from the heat, some groups of people are more susceptible. These groups include older people (65+), people with serious medical conditions, babies and younger children and those living with disability (visit this page for a more complete list).

Children and babies must be watched closely during extreme heat as they can quickly lose body fluids and become dangerously dehydrated. Carers must ensure that children drink enough water, avoid excessive sun exposure and stay cool.

Children and babies must never be left unattended in cars. Doing so can result in serious suffering and even death.

Don’t forget your pets on hot days! According to Animal Welfare Victoria it is especially important to look after pets who are older, have short noses, thick coats, or who are built to live in colder climates. Tips include leaving two bowls of water (in case of accidental spills), access to cool, shady areas, and never leaving pets alone in hot vehicles. Look out for signs of heat stroke in animals, which can include excessive panting, lethargy, drooling or muscle tremors.

For more information on preparing for extreme heat, how to help others on hot days and what to do in the case of power failure, please visit the Better Health website. For more extensive advice regarding pets, check out Animal Welfare Victoria’s page on pet heat health.

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