Whitehorse City Council

Heat-related Illness

As the weather heats up, it's crucial to know how to stay safe this summer. It is very important that all residents know and understand the symptoms of heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke and how to treat them. 

As the weather gets warmer, residents are advised to plan ahead and be prepared for extreme weather. 

Summer and its hot weather can have a very negative effect on the young, the elderly and those with health conditions so it is crucial that people plan how they are going to remain cool. 

Anyone can suffer from heat-related illnesses but those most susceptible are people over 65 years of age, particularly those living alone without air-conditioning; babies and young children; people who are overweight or obese; people with existing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes; and pregnant and nursing mothers. 

Play it cool this summer. Drink plenty of water and other fluids, but avoid alcohol as it has dehydrating effects. Stay indoors, if possible in air conditioning, or in the shade, wear lightweight and loose clothing, reduce physical activity and protect yourself from the sun. 

It is extremely important to establish a routine where community members check on older, sick or frail family members and neighbours on hot days, especially those who live alone. Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms, usually in the abdomen, arms or legs. Rest is the best treatment. Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can develop into heat stroke. 

Symptoms include a pale complexion and sweating, rapid heart rate, muscle cramps and weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting or fainting. Cool down the person and get medical help if needed.  

Heat stroke is a life-threatening illness. Call an ambulance to have heat stroke treated immediately. Symptoms may be the same as heat exhaustion but the skin may appear dry with no sweating and the person’s mental condition begins to deteriorate.  

For more information on heat stress and heat-related illness, visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au and www.health.vic.gov.au/environment/heatwave.