During extremely hot weather, it is easy to become dehydrated (lose too much water from your body) or for your body to overheat. If this happens you may develop heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke. If you suffer from any chronic health conditions, your condition may become worse during a period of hot weather. It is therefore important to plan ahead and be prepared to beat the heat.

What happens to your body in extreme heat?

It is very important that a person’s body temperature stays in the range of 36.1 – 37.8°C. If the body temperature rises above this, a person may develop a heat-related illness. When the weather is very hot, the body has to work very hard and produce a lot of sweat to keep itself cool.

Under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough and a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. This is more likely to happen when it is humid, or when a person is dehydrated (has lost water from the body) and cannot produce enough sweat. In addition, some people cannot cope as well with hot conditions as others. For example, elderly people and people taking certain medications are less able to produce sweat. Also young children produce more body heat, sweat less and have faster rising body temperatures.

Exposure to high temperatures can make existing illnesses seriously worse (for example trigger a heart attack), cause serious permanent injuries (damage to the brain or other vital organs) as a result of untreated heat stroke, and in extreme cases result in death.

Remember the 4 key messages to keep you and others healthy in the heat

1. Drink plenty of water. 2. Keep cool. 3. Take care of others. 4. Have a plan! 

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Page Updated: Friday 2 December 2016