There are simple ways to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy during heatwaves.

It is important to stay healthy in the heat. There are simple ways to keep cool.

Keep cool

Keeping cool and your temperature down is the first step to remaining healthy during the heat.

To keep cool:

  • drink cold drinks and eating smaller cold meals such as salads and fruit
  • wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibres like cotton
  • stay out of the sun
  • plan your day and avoid being in the heat between 11am and 5pm
  • put wet towels or cool packs on your arms or neck
  • take cool showers or baths or put your feet in cool water
  • limit physical activity, like household chores or exercise, to early in the morning when it is coolest.
  • If you must go outside, apply sunscreen, wear a wide brim hat and sunglasses and take water with you

Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water and staying well hydrated keeps you healthy during the heat.

To stay hydrated and check your hydration:

  • drink plenty of water regularly even if you don’t feel thirsty
  • check the colour of your urine  – if it’s pale, you’re drinking enough
  • talk to your GP about how much water you should drink in hot weather, especially if they normally limit your fluids
  • avoid alcoholic, sugary or hot drinks including tea and coffee which can make dehydration worse
  • carry water with you if go outside
  • stock your fridge with cold water and freezer with ice

Keep your home cool

Keeping your home cool helps to protect yourself from heat and keep the heat away.

To keep your home cool:

  • shut windows, curtains and blinds during the day and open them at night to let in cool air and create a cross breeze
  • use air-conditioning set to cool or fans if you have them
  • spend time in the coolest area of your house (often on the ground floor on the south side)
  • use your stove and oven as little as possible.

Don't forget to prepare your home for the heat.

Seek out the cool

Know where your local cool places are.

Cool places can include:

  • outdoor places that offer shade from the direct sun, such as parks with tree shade or shelters
  • your local pool, water playground or splash park
  • local safe and shady waterways such as rivers, leakes, streams
  • air-conditioned public buildings, such as museums and art galleries, libraries and shopping centres.
If you visit public places, be sure to physically distance and practise good hygiene to protect yourself from COVID-19. Learn how to stay safe in the heat during COVID-19.

Take care of others

When protecting yourself from heat, don’t forget to take care of others – especially if they are more at risk.

To help take care of others, you can:

  • keep in daily contact with relatives, neighbours and friends, especially those living alone or socially isolated. If visiting is a risk, check in virtually by phone, text or video call
  • make sure their house is prepared and they have a plan to look after their health in the heat
  • have a plan for how to stay healthy in the heat, and how to seek help if you’re caring for someone
  • take particular care to keep children cool and encourage them to drink
  • never leave babies, children or animals alone in a car even if the air-conditioner is on

Keep food safe

When your home heats up or your power goes out during the heat, there is a chance your food can spoil and become unsafe.

To help maintain food safety, you can:

  • properly store food that needs refrigeration
  • defrost foods in the fridge, not on the kitchen bench
  • read up on how to keep food safe at home
  • understand how to keep your food safe if you have a power failure

After the heat has passed

Once the weather has cooled down and the heat has passed, continue to care for yourself and monitor for any symptoms.

To care for yourself after the heat:

  • continue to drink plenty of fluids
  • take time to rest and recover as coping with extremely hot weather can be tiring
  • contact your GP if you feel unwell
  • open windows and doors to let your house cool down
  • contact family and friends to see if they have coped during the heat and if they need help
  • consider how well you coped and what you could do differently next time
  • make changes in your home so it will be more comfortable for you during the next time of extreme heat

Heat and bushfire smoke

On hot, smoky days take precautions to reduce your exposure to high heat and smoke.

Stay cool and out of smoky conditions by avoiding vigorous outdoor activity and spending more time indoors with the doors and windows shut.

If you don’t have access to air conditioning at home, or the smoke is inside your house, spend time in air-conditioned public buildings, such as museums and art galleries, libraries and shopping centres.

In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

If you visit public places, be sure to physically distance and practise good hygiene to protect yourself from COVID-19. Learn how to stay safe in the heat during COVID-19.
Current as at: Friday 11 December 2020
Contact page owner: Environmental Health