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Heat Alert Saturday December 19th 2015

The Chief Health Officer has issued a heat health alert to notify you of forecast extreme heat conditions at or above heat health temperature thresholds (based on the Bureau of Meteorology 7-day forecast).

The fact that people older than 65 years are more prone to heat stress and do not adjust as well as younger people to sudden changes in temperature is not often understood.

How to cope

Some suggestions:

  • Plan for a heat wave and look after yourself
  • Keep in touch with sick or frail relatives, friends & neighbours
  • Drink water as required
  • Keep cool with: wet towels, cool showers
  • Avoid shopping at hottest times
  • Keep curtains drawn during the day
  • Don’t leave children or pets in parked vehicles
  • Make sure food is properly stored
  • Avoid strenuous activity such as sports, gardening
  • Watch or listen to weather reports

Older people may not realize that they need more water because the sense of thirst diminishes with age so people don’t always know they’re dehydrating. Making matters worse, older kidneys aren’t as good at keeping fluids in the system.

Add to that the host of medications taken by seniors — some of which can impair sweating and the heart’s ability to pump harder in response to these heat-related demands — and it’s a recipe for disaster on days when the mercury skyrockets.

In extreme heat, blood is redirected to the skin to help cool us down. To make up for that, the body needs to make more blood so that the heart, brain and other organs will get enough. But that takes a lot of water, which may be in short supply when a person has been sweating a lot.

Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness.

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