Heatwave Health Advice

Heat stress, heat exhaustion and heatstroke are potentially serious health risks for people during a heatwave.

  • In heatwaves, significant increases in mortality can occur due especially in those >65years old and more vulnerable groups
  • Deaths have occurred at home, in residential care facilities and in hospitals

Who is particularly vulnerable?

Heatwaves can affect any of us, but those most at risk are:

  • Babies and children
  • People >65 years old
  • People with underlying health conditions including problems with breathing, heart, kidneys and diabetes
  • People with Alzheimer’s and dementia

Public Health Advice 

Keep cool

Keep your indoor environment cool:

  • Minimise unnecessary heating - turn off central heating, electrical equipment and lights that are not needed
  • Keep out the heat - increase shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight
  • Use natural ventilation such as open windows when the air feels cooler outside than inside (e.g at night) and where it is safe and secure to do so
  • Increase air flow through buildings wherever possible
  • If you are using air conditioning, make sure it is using a fresh air supply, which is important to prevent spread of Covid-19
  • Electric fans need to be used with caution, as they may not be safe for higher temperatures and should not be used where a person may be incubating or a case of Covid-19

 Evaporative cooling – dampening your skin may help keep you cool

Stay hydrated

  • Make sure you have enough water to drink. It is important to stay hydrated
  • You might like to leave to drinks in the fridge
  • An adult needs approximately 2 litres of liquid over 24 hours. This may be less for smaller people or those with medical conditions

Reduce the risk of dehydration

  • Drink more fluids when you feel any dehydration symptoms. The best fluids to drink are water or oral rehydration sachets – chat to your pharmacist about how to use these safely.
  • Drink enough during the day so your pee is a pale clear colour.

Carers: making sure someone drinks enough

The person you are caring for may not have a sense of how much they're drinking.

To help them:

  • make sure they drink during mealtimes
  • make drinking a social thing, like "having a cup of tea"
  • offer them food with a high water content – for example,  ice cream or jellies, or fruits like melon

When to get medical help

Contact your GP or the Emergency Department if you are unwell and especially if you  

  • are confused and disorientated
  • feel very dizzy
  • have not peed all day
  • feel like your heart is beating fast
  • have fits (seizures)
  • are caring for someone who is drowsy or difficult to wake

These can be signs of serious dehydration that need urgent treatment.