Factbox: How to survive a heatwave


With temperatures already beginning to soar this summer, it's important to know how to better protect yourself from heat injuries.

With temperatures set to soar this summer, some cities may experience heatwaves.

A heat wave is referred to as a prolonged period of excessively hot weather which is often accompanied by high humidity. Severe heat waves have eradicated crops, caused widespread power outages and killed thousands from hyperthermia.

NSW Health Medical Adviser in Environmental Health Dr Richard Broome says while Australians consider themselves to be quite resilient, they have to remember to take heat-related injuries seriously. NSW Health reports that a 2011 heatwave in Sydney caused almost 600 emergency department visits and 96 deaths.

Some groups are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures including the elderly, children and people with chronic medical conditions.

St Johns Ambulance Training Officer Lisa Martin says the best way to protect yourself from heat injuries is to stay out of the sun and at least between 11am and 5pm.

"To protect ourselves from heat stress and other stress related illness, it's best to really stay out of the sun as much as possible when the temperature gets to that extreme," says Ms Martin.

When the mercury rises, it's also advised to keep your hydration levels up by drinking water or drinks with electrolytes in them. Ms Martin says beverages like coffee and alcohol act as a diuretic and can often make you more dehydrated.

To keep the house cool, shut windows and doors during the day and keep blinds and curtains closed for most of the day. Wearing light and loose clothing will help and, if you have to go outside remember to wear sunscreen.

Ms Martin says the most important thing is to ensure you are aware of what your body is doing.

"At the start we have heat exhaustion… you feel very lethargic; a headache starts; you're very tired; there's nausea and you will be starting to sweat profusely, so if you don't monitor yourself and stop what you're doing… that can lead to heat-stroke."

Source: SBS

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